Lashenko appeals for support as his Bishop Sutton side march on
LEE Lashenko has appealed to Bishop Sutton residents to support their local club in its quest for a first ever Toolstation Western League title.
Three points clear of nearest rivals Brislington at the top of the Premier Division and with two games in hand, Sutton have emerged as favourites to be crowned champions at the end of April.
But the team's success has failed to capture the imagination of villagers and manager Lashenko has bemoaned the lack of atmosphere at the Lakeview Ground this season.
He said: "It would be nice if local people got behind us, especially when we are doing so well.
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"But there is a lot of apathy and crowds have been disappointing. We played Cadbury Heath at home the other week and they brought so many supporters it felt like an away game for us.
"We are doing our bit on the pitch to make Bishop Sutton successful and I know it would mean a lot to the players if local people got behind them."
Sutton are on the road tomorrow when they head to Devon for a game against Willand Rovers and Lashenko selects from a full-strength squad.
Having lost ground in the title race in recent weeks, Cadbury Heath will be hoping to put their challenge back on track at Radstock.
Recalling a recent 2-1 defeat at Sutton, manager Andy Black admitted: "The players appear to have lost a bit of confidence.
"But there is enough quality in the squad and they have to just keep plugging away."
Heath will be bolstered by the return of the experienced Danny Hallett.
Longwell Green Sports still have 17 games to play before the end of the season, beginning with tomorrow's assignment at Wells City.
But general manager John Gibbs insists the squad has sufficient depth to cope with playing three times a week.
He said: "We have a strong reserve side and just about every one of those lads have played in the Western League. Games are coming thick and fast, but we have the squad to deal with it."
Manager Spencer Thomas delays naming his side pending a late fitness check on captain Andy Summers.
Back in form after experiencing a fallow January, Bitton can still have a major say in the title race. John Lester's team could move up to fourth in the table if they win at Street this weekend.
Lester has lodged seven days' notice of approach for Larkhall striker Anthony Conradi in an attempt to bolster his squad ahead of a hectic run-in.
At the other end of the table, Winterbourne United travel to basement side Barnstaple for a game they cannot afford to lose.
A series of points dropped at home have left United's players looking anxiously over their shoulders and club spokesman Kevin Evans admitted: "This is a big game for us."
Fifth-placed Hallen have struggled to impose themselves on teams in the lower reaches of the league this season and will be eager to put right that particular area of under-achievement at Melksham Town.
Hengrove Athletic boss Jamie Hillman is urging his players to give a 90 minute performance at lowly Westbury United.
The First Division leaders were excellent for an hour against Sherborne last time out, but fell away and had to settle for a point from a 1-1 draw.
Hillman said: "We have to become a 90-minute team rather than one that plays for 60 minutes if we are going to win promotion.
"We paid the price for that last weekend and the lads know where they need to improve."
Hengrove will be boosted by the return from injury of striker Joe Parsons.
In-form Almondsbury UWE fear no-one after a run that has seen them win five and draw one of their last seven games. Fresh from beating Roman Glass St George 3-1 in midweek, the Almonds travel to promotion hopefuls Sherborne intent upon causing an upset.
"We have a settled side, the lads are all confident and we are in the mood to take on anyone right now," declared assistant manager Mel Davies.
Portishead have been shipping goals at an alarming rate in recent weeks and will be desperate to stop the rot at home to Roman Glass, another team experiencing a downward curve.
But at least manager David Pettitt's hand will be strengthened by the return of skipper James Hughes, Lee Brice and Sam Charman, all of whom missed the midweek trek to Wellington. Portishead's squad will also include new signing Joe Berry, who made his debut at Wellington, but Kieran Marsden is not available.
Roman Glass have problems of their own. Top-scorer Karim Rendall has moved to Yate Town, while first-choice goalkeeper Shane Mason begins a two-match ban.
Reserve-team stopper Neil Black deputises, while midfielder Dan Burton is available after suspension. But centre-back Dan Crossland misses out through injury.