WITH 11 games to play between now and the end of February, the next few weeks could make or break Basingstoke Town’s season.
The Camrose club go into Saturday’s home game against in-form Bath City sitting 12th in the Conference South table, but they have games in hand over most of the teams above them and are just five points outside the play-off places.
It’s a decent position to be in and Town boss Jason Bristow says that his squad, who have not played a complete game since Boxing Day due to the wet weather, are relishing the upcoming busy period.
“The lads are training well and competition for places is really high so we are really looking forward to the run of games we have got coming up,” he said. “We have a lot of options now, so nobody can afford to rest on their laurels, which can only be good for the football club.
“I would rather have the points than games in hand but we are looking at it and thinking that we could be in a great position by the end of next month.
“We cannot assume that will happen, we have to make it happen, but if we play like we know we can and do what we need to do in the final third then we could pick up a lot of points in the coming weeks.”
The busy spell begins with two home games in the coming week. First to travel to the Camrose are Bath City on Saturday (kick-off 3pm), while Whitehawk will be the visitors on Tuesday night (7.45pm).
“We have got two home games this week and we are looking to take maximum points from both of them,” Bristow added. “If we can do that it will really put the pressure on the sides above us.”
Bath go into Saturday’s game in great form, having lost just one of their last 11 league matches, a run that has taken them up to seventh in the table.
“We want to start the year in the right way against Bath but that will be a tough game because they are going really well at the moment,” Bristow said. “They are a good side. They are well organised but play some good stuff.
“However, it’s important that we do not forget that we won our last match 4-0 with a good performance. We have a good record at home and are a match for anyone when we play as we know we can.”
Town will be without defenders David Ray and Adam Green through suspension, while Simon Dunn is a doubt with a dead leg. Ross Adams is expected to replace Ray in the heart of the defence, with either Andrew Jenkinson or Robbie Rice likely to deputise at left-back.
Whitehawk will be a very different proposition. They have won just once in the league since mid-September and are in trouble near the bottom of the table – but they frustrated Town when the sides met in Sussex earlier in the season, nicking a goal and spoiling the game.
“They are a hard side to play against and once they went ahead, they really made it difficult for us,” Bristow said. “We know what they are about and they will certainly be tough to beat.
“It will be a tough test but we are in better shape than we were back then, with a lot more options.”
Visit basingstokegazette.co.uk/sport for live updates from the Camrose on Saturday afternoon.