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'Stoke's Paterson prepares for 'crucial' weekend
ASHLEY Paterson says that this weekend’s games could be crucial in deciding which teams finish in the London One South top two.
’Stoke travel to Sidcup on Saturday knowing that a victory would edge them closer to the top two place they need to have a chance of winning promotion.
Current pacesetters Chichester and East Grinstead go into the weekend eight points ahead of Basingstoke – but they play each other, meaning that ’Stoke will gain ground on at least one of them with a win at Sidcup.
Indeed, the gap to second place could be down to just three points, putting the Down Grange club right back in the thick of the promotion shake-up.
Full-back Paterson said: “This weekend will be crucial. As long as we can get the bonus point win at Sidcup then we will make ground on at least one of the top two.
“We could be as little as three points off second place, which would make the table look a lot closer than it does at the moment.”
Despite a brilliant run of six consecutive league wins, Basingstoke currently find themselves off the pace at the top of the table due to early season defeats at the hands of both East Grinstead and Chichester.
However, their response to these setbacks has been impressive and Paterson says that the squad still believes they can close the gap to win promotion.
“We had those two early defeats but all we have got to do now is win all of our games and we will be promoted,” the 23-year-old said. “There is a lot of belief that we can do it and we will give it everything we have got.
“The games against East Grinstead, Chichester and Wimbledon will be the big ones but we think we can win all of them.
“We gave Chichester a 14-point head start at their place and only just lost the game. Had we not done that we probably would have won.
“East Grinstead are a good side but there is no reason why we can’t upset them next time we play.
“We have been defending well and are the best attacking side in the league. Whereas last season we were scrapping for bonus points, now we seem capable of putting sides to the sword.
"The strength and conditioning work that we have done this season has been fantastic and that is showing in games. We are dominating sides in the last 20 minutes, while we also look powerful and strong.
“We are on a great run at the moment. It is going really well and we seem to be getting better each week.”
Paterson paints a picture of a highly confident side that believes they can beat anybody – but it is clear that the squad are determined not to allow this to morph into complacency.
“I think we are all wise enough to know that every time we walk onto the pitch, there is a chance that things might not go our way,” Paterson added. “We are expected to win most weeks but teams are hard to break down and I do not think we will struggle to get up for any game.
“Added to that, there is so much depth in our squad that people are always pushed. The As are racking up big wins to keep the pressure on the guys playing for the first team. We know that we cannot afford to have an off-day.
“I would like to say I am established but my position is not safe because there is always someone pushing. I would like to think that the 15 shirt is mine but there is pressure because the people wanting to take it off me are very good.”
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