Town prepare for "massive" Hampshire derby

Basingstoke Gazette: Delano Sam-Yorke is over his hamstring injury and set to return to the Town team. Delano Sam-Yorke is over his hamstring injury and set to return to the Town team.

BASINGSTOKE Town manager Jason Bristow has stopped short of describing Saturday’s Hampshire derby game away at Havant and Waterlooville as a relegation six-pointer – but he admits that it is definitely a “massive game.”

Both teams go into the match on 27 points, with just goal difference keeping them out of the relegation zone, meaning defeat for either could push them into the bottom three.

Bristow said: “I think that there are too many teams invo-lved to say that Satur-day’s game is a six-pointer, but whoever loses could be in trouble. It’s a massive game but there is still a long way to go.”

Town face a difficult run of games in February, playing seven matches over the course of 22 days that could shape their season.

Win four or five and Town could move into mid-table and possibly even begin looking towards the play-off places – but a run of defeats may well leave them facing a relegation battle.

“It’s a big month for every team,” Bristow said. “There are so many games and if we have a good month it could really see us move up the table – while we could be struggling if we have a bad few weeks.

“From our point of view, we have got to continue playing the way we have been playing. “It was a shame that we lost to Welling last week but the performance was very good and we want to continue that.”

Making things more difficult for Town is the fact that six of their seven games in February will be played away from the Camrose.

Basingstoke have won just one game on the road this season – but Bristow said that it should not make any difference where games are played.

“We need to turn our away form around but our home form was not that good before January,” he said. “It only looks better because of the last three or four games.

“I don’t think home or away makes any difference. “Every game is the same, no matter where it is played. Our preparation is the same and we set out the same way so it shouldn’t make any difference.”

The first of these away games is on Saturday (kick-off 3pm), when Town make the short trip to south Hampshire to play Havant.

Both teams are desperate for points and Bristow expects a hard-fought derby game.

“Saturday will be tough because Havant are in the same position as us,” he said. “They have improved since the start of the season and it should be a really good game.

“Havant have got some good players, especially in forward areas. We will have to be on our guard defensively but we have players who are more than capable of worrying them as well. If we concentrate on the right things, and then hopefully we will come out on top.”

Town are expected to welcome back key striker Delano Sam-Yorke, whose hamstring problem meant he was only fit for a place on the bench last week, while defender Ross Adams is also set to return after suspension.

Reading youngster Ben Jefford is also expected to be fit after picking up a bang to the knee last week, but it is unclear whether midfielder Stuart Lake will feature after becoming a father.

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