08:00AM, Thursday 20 April 2017
Harry Pritchard has seen many changes at York Road since first walking through the York Road gates at the age of 19, fresh from impressing many with his exploits at Flackwell Heath and Burnham.
Five years on, the midfielder – among the best left-sided players in the league – is gearing up for one of the biggest matches in his short career, the arrival of title rivals Ebbsfleet United on Saturday.
Pritchard is confident that the Magpies can beat any team at any time and especially now as, with a five-point lead at the top of National League South and two games to play, he believes the onus is on the Fleet.
“The pressure is off us, it’s not a game we have to win,” he said. “It’ll be a great day whatever and we want to enjoy it.
“It’ll be a great day at the club, for everyone involved on and off the pitch, and I’m looking forward to it.”
He added: “We always knew this could be the decider. They are second in the table for a reason. They are a good side, with experienced players and experience of challenging, while it’s all a bit new for many of us.
“They will come out at 100mph as they have to win, but we’re not too focused on them. We’ll enjoy it and play our game.”
And the Magpies’ game is coming on rather well. Back-to-back wins over the Easter weekend have meant they have won their last nine matches and are unbeaten in more than two months. It’s something that has even taken the 24-year-old slightly by surprise.
He said: “We’ve been on a great run of nine wins on the bounce. We had a patchy period a couple of months ago, but it wasn’t bad, it was not like we lost two/three/ four games in a row.
“It was just a patch which all teams go through and we were always confident we could go on another great little run.
“I don’t think anyone thought we would win nine in a row, but I’ll take it.”
It’s just the latest memorable period in a memorable campaign which was unimaginable even 12 months ago, let alone when Pritchard first joined the club.
“I joined having played at Flackwell Heath and Burnham, but not at this level, and had some good times under Drax (previous Magpies’ boss Johnson Hippolyte),” he said.
“He taught me things and gave me the opportunity to play and I’ll always be grateful to him for that.
“When Dev (Alan Devonshire) came in, he brought in a lot of his own players and he just made us tougher all around the pitch. We can now grind out wins, 1-0 or 2-1, and that’s important.
“Three years ago we were playing to win games to stay up, now we’re playing to win the league.”
That’s something of which the fans’ favourite and local lad couldn’t have dreamed when he pulled on his first black and white striped shirt at the tender age of 19.
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