BASINGSTOKE Town are preparing for a busy and vital Christmas period as they look to climb the Blue Square Bet South table.
The Camrose club go into the festive season with only stricken Truro City below them in the table, having won just one of their last 10 matches in all competitions.
Coming up is a run of four games in the space of 11 days, starting with a home game against Staines Town on Saturday (kick-off 3pm). Town then make the short trip to Farnborough on Boxing Day (3pm), before travelling to Woking’s Kingfield Stadium, the temporary home of Hayes and Yeading United, on December 29 (3pm). Their Christmas programme comes to an end with the return match at home to Farnborough on New Year’s Day (3pm).
It’s a run of games that could define the club’s season. Emerge with eight or nine points and they could move up several places, but come away with only one or two and a relegation battle will beckon.
It will not be easy. Staines will be keen to turn around their own poor run of form, while Farnborough and Hayes and Yeading are both in play-off contention.
Basingstoke manager Jason Bristow said: “It is a tough run of games but in this league every game is a difficult one.
“Farnborough are chasing the play-offs and will fancy their chances against us and Hayes were possibly one of the best sides we have seen so far this season.
“The good news is that we seem to rise to the occasion against the better sides but we will just concentrate on each game as it comes and try to get as many points as possible.”
Town will be keen to get their festive season off to a winning start against Staines on Saturday. On paper, it looks a very winnable game for the hosts. Staines lost five in a row before drawing with Weston-super-Mare last week and have been beaten in seven of their 10 away matches this season.
Bristow said: “The Staines game is a big game for us and it’s important that we start the festive period on the right foot.
“We have got to start getting some belief back because we have looked like a good side when we have played football and believed in ourselves.”
Bristow is expected to make several changes to the side that collapsed so visibly in the second half of their 3-0 defeat at Hornchurch last week.
Strikers Delano Sam-Yorke and Tim Sills, missed that game due to suspension and illness respectively, are likely to return to the starting line-up, while Robert Rice, Matt Warner and Ross Adams could all return from injury.
“Saturday could be the strongest we have been all season in terms of personnel so it is a good opportunity to get a run together and push up the table,” Bristow added. “We have got experienced players we can bring in now. “That could be vital and make a real difference.”
Keep up to date with all of Town’s Christmas fixtures at basingstokegazette.co.uk/sport