IPSWICH Exiles manager Lee Steward says the resurgence of fellow strugglers Ipswich Athletic has boosted his side.

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Athletic have won three of their last five matches, including defeating Exiles 2-1, to move level on points with them at the foot of the Senior Division table.

Steward admitted this season has been an “eye opener” for his second-from-bottom side, after clinching promotion to the top tier for the first time in the club’s history on the final day of last season.

He said: “The league table doesn’t lie. We are where we are – we can’t say we have been unfortunate or unlucky. You make your own luck.

“We have found our mistakes have been punished this season, whereas in Division One we got away with them.

“Ipswich Athletic have picked up and recently beat us fairly and squarely and their victory last Saturday against Wickham Market proved it was no fluke.

“It has given us a boost because it proves teams at the bottom can beat those at the top.”

Steward said Exiles had not only found it hard to attract players, but had been on the receiving end of seven-day approaches for most of his squad.

Exiles have just lost top goalscorer Clarke Bruce to Thurlow Nunn League Division One side Whitton United.

“We received eight seven-day approaches for him in the last five or six weeks from teams in our league,” said Steward.

“He said he would stay loyal to us as he didn’t want to move sideways, but when the chance to move to Whitton came up I didn’t want to hold him back.”

Steward said he may be about to lose another player, who he did not wish to name, to the Thurlow Nunn League.

“He wants to go, but can’t play midweek at the moment, so he may stay with us, but financially we can’t offer players what other clubs can.”

Exiles’ problems have been compounded by the loss of skipper Carl Gibbs for the past month with a recurrence of a cruciate knee injury.

Chris Rogers, who took over as assistant manger this season, has assumed the captaincy, with Sean Clements now assisting Steward.

Exiles, who drew 2-2 at fourth- placed Old Newton United last Saturday, will be looking to build on that result when they visit Coplestonians tomorrow.

“We have got Coplestonians and then Leiston St Margaret’s. Both teams are in the lower part of the table, so they will be fighting for the points as well as us,” he said.

“We have had a decent record against Cops recently. We beat them twice last season and we beat them earlier this season, although we were a touch fortunate to win, so they will be looking for revenge.

“It is not a make-or-break game, but we need to get something out if it as well as the following week, especially on the back of the Old Newton result.”

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