BRIGHTLINGSEA Regent boss Tom Rothery has challenged his players to improve on last season - and hopefully snatch a play-off spot.

The R's are in the hunt for a top-five place in the Bostik League premier division and currently sit seven points adrift following Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Margate.

Rothery hopes his players finish the season strongly and stay in contention for what would be an incredible promotion.

However, first and foremost, he wants his talented young squad to improve on last season's 20th-place finish, when they finished with 48 points from their 46 fixtures.

They currently sit 12th, with 43 points from 31 matches.

“We’ve got 11 games left and I’ve said to the players to try and stay as tight and close to those play-offs as we can," said Rothery.

“If we can get in there, great.

"If we don’t, at least we can say we’ve had a really good go.

“Ultimately, we want to finish as high as we can and improve on last year, both in terms of points and position.

“Last season we finished with 48 points from 46 games.

“Now we’ve got 43 and we’re only going to play 42 matches.

“Hopefully that means we’re going to better last year’s tally and we’ve also gone further in the FA Cup and Trophy.

“It’s progress and very positive.”

One of the big positives this season has been the emergence of young players like Jordan Barnett, Harrison Banner, Charlie Gilbert, Rocha Fosker and Lewis Hargreaves.

All have been knocking on the first-team door, having impressed for the club's reserves.

“Whenever the opportunity comes, they’ve got to take it," said Rothery.

“On the first day I took over as manager, I said I wanted a link and a pathway all the way through to the first team.

“It’s never going to be perfect, even though I’m an idealistic person.

“But it just shows that if players are ambitious and want to progress this club can help them achieve that, if they buy into what we’re trying to do.

“It’s a two-way street.

"Some players say they want to step up but then aren’t that committed, because it’s a massive commitment to play at this level.

"But if they are committed and show the right attitude, we can help them develop."

Regent return to the Taydal Stadium on Saturday for a home game against Kingstonian.

They are also at home next weekend, against Harlow Town.