ALTHOUGH he is already preparing for next season, Tilbury boss Marc Harrison has set his side the challenge of finishing the current campaign as high as possible in the Isthmian North standings.

The Dockers find themselves ninth in the standings after suffering a late 3-2 defeat to promotion-chasing Maldon & Tiptree on Saturday.

But Harrison, who replaced Joe Keith at the helm in November, insists his players are still under pressure to perform despite being 19 points off the play-off places.

“I don’t want the players thinking they have already done enough and that the season is over,” said Harrison.

“We came into the club and wanted to instil a winning mentality, so I want to finish the season as high as possible in the standings.

“In the weeks ahead, we have games against Aveley, Heybridge Swifts, Coggeshall Town and Bowers & Pitsea.

“They are all fighting for promotion and I want to pick up some positive results against them so that people know that we will be challenging at the top end of the division next season.

“We’re already looking at where we can strengthen our squad for next season and I want to bring in resilient players.”

However, Tilbury were unable to halt Maldon’s charge towards promotion at Chadfields.

The Jammers took the lead in the eighth minute, when Laste Dombaxe crossed the ball for Jack Cawley to strike a low shot into the net.

Dombaxe then sent a drive crashing against the crossbar before Tilbury got a foothold in the game.

The Dockers were rewarded on 33 minutes when Lewis Smith was fouled and he stepped up to equalise from the penalty spot.

Tilbury started the second half brightly and needed only seven minutes to take the lead.

George Sykes took advantage of poor control by a Maldon defender and ran into the penalty area, holding off the challenge of another defender before rounding goalkeeper Ben McNamara and firing into the net from a tight angle.

But the introduction of Maldon substitute Eddie-Louis D’Sane proved pivotal as the striker levelled the scores on 76 minutes with a long range thunderbolt.

And, with just two minutes remaining, Maldon snatched all three points as Oluwatobi Coker found the back of the net after Tilbury failed to clear a corner.

Harrison was frustrated after seeing his side drop points from a winning position once again.

“I thought we deserved at least a point,” added Harrison.

“We have dropped 18 points after winning or drawing at half-time since we came in.

“That is a scary statistic and it’s not good enough.

“Even if we had taken half of those points, look at the position we could have been in now.

“You can’t help but be disappointed, but we are building for next season.”