Now's the time to press home our promotion advantage – Smith
ASHTON & Backwell United manager Shane Smith is urging his players to capitalise on their favourable position in the bid to make a long-awaited return to the Western League.
Smith's side are in fifth spot before tomorrow's visit from sixth-placed Minehead, whom he considers a big threat to their promotion hopes.
He said: "We're in the top five at present and that's where I feel we'll need to be if we have a chance of going up because there's no one else, other than Minehead, who are likely to have the facilities required for the Western League.
"Both clubs have been in that league before and both want to return to it. If we can beat Minehead tomorrow and then stay clear of them we'll be in with a chance."
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Neil Soper has praised his Cutters Friday co-manager John Allen ahead of their top-of-the-table clash at leaders Berrow. "John is one of the best signings I have made over the past couple of years," said Soper, of the club's former player and reserve-team boss. "He is reliable, passionate and knows his stuff and he's played a major part in our rise."
Victory will see Cutters draw level on points at the summit with tomorrow's opponents. They will miss ever-present striker Ryan Bending, though, as he has a knee problem.
Nailsea United manager Mark Savage is wary of a backlash from visitors Street Reserves. A win for fourth-placed Nailsea would see them leapfrog Street into third spot.
Savage said: "We beat them with a last-minute goal earlier in the season, so they'll be seeking revenge for that and looking to maintain their position above us."
Dave Payne is backing two of his latest recruits for Nailsea Town to "keep up the good work".
Former Nailsea United midfielder Kevin Cosham is set to continue in a free role in the home match with St George EIG, while Matt Fisher should keep his place in attack following a spell with Clevedon Town.
The return to fitness of central midfielder, and last season's player-of-the-year, Lewis Chisholm, who broke a leg in April, is another boost for manager Payne.
Stockwood Green boss Paul Beacham is desperate for the home match with Watchet to go ahead as they haven't played in the league since losing 2-0 at home to Berrow on October 27.
"We've played twice in the cup since then, but it makes it so hard to get any sort of continuity going," said Beacham, who remains without suspended left-back Lee Millard.
Stu Henley says he is drawing strength from big back-to-back wins by Clevedon United, who remain second-from-bottom before the trip to Bishops Lydeard.
"We won 4-0 at Nailsea (Town) in the quarter-finals of the Somerset Senior Cup, after beating the league leaders Berrow 1-0 in their own backyard, so we're certainly improving," said Henley.
The manager will assess the fitness of striker Tony Cook, who has a knee problem, before naming his squad. Midfielder Craig Clothier is unavailable, but right-back Dan Blackall returns from university commitments.
Shirehampton boss Pete McCall will step up his search for new players as midfielders Rob Sage and Ryan McCall have been ruled out for several weeks with knee and hamstring complaints, respectively.
Striker Max Western and midfielder Matty McCall are back for tomorrow's game at Ilminster.