Clevedon Town sign striker Russ Church from Hallen
CLEVEDON Town boss Mickey Bell has boosted his side's hopes of maintaining their play-off chase by signing former Yate Town striker Russ Church.
Church, who was contracted to Yate last season, before falling out of favour and leaving to join Western league side Almondsbury UWE, has arrived after a spell at Hallen.
"Russ is a player I've always had an eye on," said Bell. "He can play up front or out wide and will provide us with an additional goal threat. He's also knows what this league is all about, so we expect him to hit the ground running."
Church goes into a squad that faces one of the most difficult away days of the season at Merthyr Town tomorrow. The Welsh side are widely-tipped to secure back-to-back promotions after coming out of the Western League last season and Bell said: "It'll be a tough game.
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"They've had a really consistent season, because they have largely kept the same group of players that won promotion last season.
"They've added a bit more quality with one or two new players and I'd be surprised if they finish outside the play-offs.
"We've been doing fine ourselves, though, and we're looking forward to going there and giving them a tough game."
Paulton Rovers boss Nick Bunyard, meanwhile, believes strength and depth of squad could be the determining factor in the race for promotion over the remaining weeks of the campaign.
Sixth-placed Paulton are hoping to play what would be their first game in three weeks at play-off chasing rivals Wimborne Town tomorrow.
Bunyard believes a run-in of back-to-back weekend and midweek games will be the outcome of the decimated programme throughout January, but is confident he has a squad strong enough to cope.
"There is always a little period of bad weather in every season, so to have a fixture backlog towards the end of the season is never unexpected," said Bunyard.
"It is important you have a squad strong enough and big enough in terms of numbers to cope with the logistical problems that arise from it.
"The squad does become a lot more important when you have a lot of midweek fixtures, because you never quite know what side you will be able to put out.
"The main issue for us is that some of the players struggle to get away from work to travel to away games on a Tuesday or Wednesday night.
"It is not only us that has that problem though, a lot of managers in this league will tell you the same thing, but I'm confident our squad is big enough so as not to have any negative effect on our ambitions."
Bunyard welcomes strike pair James Billings and Bradley Norris back into the squad for the trip to Dorset for a game against seventh-placed Wimborne Town.
"It is a bit early in the season to be talking about must-win games," said Bunyard. "It is more about how the players react after not playing for three weeks that concerns me more.
"We've won six league games on the bounce, but this weather break has stalled the momentum we had been building. It is important we try to regain that quickly to keep ourselves in the mix."
Mangotsfield United boss Richard Thompson is considering farming a couple of players out on loan to get game time now that he has the luxury of a fully-fit squad to choose from.
"Our injury problems have cleared up and we are almost back up to full strength now," said Thompson. "It is useful to have a big squad, but it does bring the odd problem.
"Players want to play games on a Saturday and it is hard to keep them happy when you can't offer them that. I want to keep them all together so it might be a case sending a couple out on loan to get them some game-time."
Thompson welcomes striker Ryan Bath back from a groin injury for tomorrow's trip to Cinderford Town.
Yate Town boss Rob Cousins says he is in the market for new players after losing Adnan Hiroli and James Harmer in recent weeks.
Cousins said: "It took us some time to get the quality of squad we've got at the moment and we want competition for places.
"We're always on the lookout for the right people to add strength to the squad and we don't want to leave ourselves short between now and the end of the season."
Yate are scheduled to entertain Taunton Town at Lodge Road tomorrow.