JASON Bristow admits that his side cannot afford to lose to fellow strugglers Billericay on Saturday as Basingstoke Town prepare for the month that will make or break their season.
The Camrose club play eight games between now and April 1. Four of them are tough matches against sides pushing for promotion but the other four are winnable games against sides close to Town in the table.
It’s a month of opportunity but trouble could lie ahead as Basingstoke face a tough run-in after Easter, with their last four games against sides currently in the top five.
If Town are less than five points clear of the bottom three come 5pm on Easter Monday, they could be in serious trouble. However, a good March could see them shoot up the table and make that tricky run-in seem very interesting.
“March is going to be tough and April even tougher so it’s vital that we pick up points wherever possible,” Bristow said. “Our last four games are all against sides who are either battling for the title or the play-offs, so we have to make sure we are in a strong position come Easter Monday.”
That makes Saturday’s home game against Billericay (kick-off 3pm) even more important.
The Essex side are currently second from bottom in the Blue Square Bet South table after losing 6-1 at Dorchester on Tuesday night, their fourth defeat in a row.
“They are all big games but we cannot afford to lose on Saturday,” Bristow said. “We cannot let Billericay gain points on us.
“They cannot afford to lose either and it’s going to be difficult because they might look to get men behind the ball, especially if we allow them to get an advantage.
“Offensively, we could really hurt them, as we have done other sides. We know we can score, we just need to tighten up at the back and I believe we can do enough to get the three points.”
That may be easier said than done as Town face a defensive injury crisis going into the game. Ross Adams remains on the sidelines with an ankle problem, while fellow centre-back Jay Gasson will also miss out after injuring his knee during last week’s game at Maidenhead.
To make matters worse, left-back Matt Warner is away on business for the next two weeks, meaning Basingstoke are down to the bare bones at the back.
“It’s not a crisis because we have a back four, but it is borderline,” Bristow said. “We are looking at getting someone in on loan but it has to be the right person.”
Log on to basingstokegazette.co.uk/sport for live updates from the Camrose on Saturday afternoon.