Boss Lester urges Bitton to bring Vase form into league matches
BITTON boss John Lester insists his players can still challenge for the Premier Division title – but only if they reproduce their FA Vase form on a regular basis.
The club have reserved their best performances for the Vase, beating St Blazey in Cornwall to book a home tie against Shildon or Parkgate in the last 32. But Lester has challenged his players to compete on all fronts and is not ruling out a late title charge.
Though trailing leaders Brislington by 14 points, Bitton have three games in hand. Lester said: "It is all about being consistent. We have been very up and down this season, but our results and performances in the FA Vase show what we are capable of.
"If we can play like that more often than not and put ourselves in the top six at Christmas, then we can still challenge."
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Second-placed Cadbury Heath host Bitton tomorrow and Andy Black's team look capable of following up last season's promotion by lifting the Premier crown.
Black said: "This game is a chance for us to widen the gap between ourselves and one of our main rivals. If we can take the three points, it will probably leave Bitton with too much to do." Heath are again without injured captain and central defender Joe Chandler.
Longwell Green Sports face a demanding fixture list in the next few weeks. Buckland Athletic visit Shellards Road tomorrow and Sports then have tough games against Street, Bitton and Cadbury Heath.
However, general manager John Gibbs believes the squad is equipped to do well. He said: "We've improved a lot since the start and now have a lot more depth in the squad. These games will be difficult, but we have a great spirit in our camp and are relishing the challenge."
Manager Paul Owen is urging Hallen's players to show character when they entertain Larkhall Athletic.
Hallen have yet to come from behind to win a game this season and have suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of Brislington and Buckland Athletic. Owen said: "We don't seem to respond when we go a goal down and it is something that needs to be addressed."
Bristol Manor Farm boss John Black is in the market for a striker after failing to sign Jordan Rogers from Almondsbury and then losing Ashley Knight to injury. Knight pulled a hamstring in last Saturday's defeat to Cadbury Heath and is expected to be out for at least a month.
Black has bolstered his midfield by recruiting Kieran Williams from Bitton and he will feature in tomorrow's game at Radstock Town.
Winterbourne United can take nothing for granted against Wells City, according to club spokesman Kevin Evans. United won 4-1 at Wells earlier in the season, but Evans said: "They will be out for revenge and we cannot afford to be complacent. We are still too close to the relegation zone for comfort."
Oldland Abbotonians boss Paul Britton admits he would settle for a "scrappy 1-0 win" at home to Welton Rovers in the First Division. "We've not won any of our last four games and are desperate to change that," he said.
Almondsbury UWE, who host Calne Town, have Jordan Rogers back from suspension, while goalkeeper Chris Coles and midfielder Mark Branton have recovered from injury and Mark Fitzgerald also returns after missing last weekend's 2-1 defeat against Corsham.
Keynsham Town still have injury problems and manager Steve Cains must do without Rob Sheriton, Josh Arberry and Chris Lewis at Cribbs Friends Life.
A pair of 17-year-olds, Connor Kingdon and Ryan Day, along with midfielder Dan Caswell have broken into the side and contributed to a return of two wins in three games.