Shane Smith hoping his Ashton & Backwell side can give their title challenge a boost
ASHTON & Backwell boss Shane Smith knows his side cannot afford to slip up when they face Nailsea United if they are to keep their title hopes alive.
Smith had seen his side race into contention on the back of an unbeaten nine-game run earlier in the season – but two defeats in their last three games has left them eight points behind leaders Berrow.
Mark Savage's Nailsea United have lost just once in their last seven games and could leapfrog Ashton & Backwell and Cutters Friday, who are without a fixture, and move in to second place should they win.
"It's very tight," said Smith. "It is an important game because we don't want to fall off the pace by losing it against a very good Nailsea United side.
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"It is just as important for us in that we need to re-find some of the form from earlier in this season that got us into this position."
Smith welcomes James Cinicola back into the squad, but striker Nathan Rendell has left the club. Savage chooses from the same squad that secured an impressive 7-3 success over Langford Rovers last weekend.
Shirehampton will attempt to keep their hand in the title race when they play in-form Street Reserves.
"They are just below us in the table with a game in hand, so a win would be really useful," said manager Pete McCall. "We need to keep the pressure on the teams above us, so we can take advantage if somebody slips up."
McCall is boosted by the return of striker Nick Alexander, who has recovered from a broken ankle. Skipper Danny Morne is rated as doubtful with an ankle injury.
Nailsea Town boss Dave Payne is without ankle-injury victim Miles Sulleyman for tomorrow's trip to Weston St Johns, but George Martin returns after a number of weeks sidelined.
Clevedon United boss Stu Henley is hopeful his side will finally get their bid to get out of the bottom two going when they host Ilminster Town.
Henley has seen his side turn in some decent performances in recent weeks – including an impressive 3-3 draw with Berrow – but has failed to see that improvement reflected in their points haul.
"We've been playing pretty well," said Henley. "We just haven't really got the points to show for it. I feel fairly confident that we are close to getting a couple of good results."