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HELLENIC LEAGUE: (No) goodwill to all men
WOOTTON Bassett manager Dave Turner doesn’t want to see his players dishing out any generosity to their local rivals during the season of goodwill.
Bassett have a trio of derby dates to look forward to over the festive period, starting with the trip to Cricklade in Division One West tomorrow (2.15pm), and Turner expects his team’s Christmas to be more tiring than others’ because of it.
However, having already exceeded their points target for the end of December, Bassett go into the matches on the crest of a wave.
Originally the plan was to aim for 30 points by Christmas, but with a game to go, the Rylands Way outfit are seven points better off and Turner wants to see his side make the most of it.
“From what I’ve seen they’re a decent little side and it will be a tough game,” said Turner. “It’s another derby game. It just seems to be derby after derby with Fairford, Cricklade and Purton - they keep coming.
“When you’re playing six or eight over the year it can have a bearing on where you finish because they aren’t like the other games that you play.
“Brimscombe for instance probably only have two derbies and we’ve got six. That can have a bearing at the end of it. We try not to let it but it could do because the normal league position goes out the window.
“Everybody raises their game. Purton will be trying their damnedest to beat us, as Cricklade will over the Christmas period, just because we’re their neighbours.
“It does add extra pressure. We’ve coped with it so far this season. We’ve got a good track record to date. It is in our hands but it does make it a little bit more difficult.
“We set a target for Christmas which we’ve already exceeded so we’re slightly ahead of where we wanted to be, which is a nice place to be.
“At the other side of Christmas you want to be in contention and on the coattails of the other sides up there and that’s exactly where we are. Touch wood, everything at the moment is going according to plan.
“It’s been a good first half of the season but that won’t count for anything if we let it all fall away.”
Turner will be without Adam Corcoran, who is away, but Ritchie Saunders returns to the matchday squad.
“I’m very wary of Cricklade. A couple of years ago, when we came joint top with Slimbridge the two games we lost were both to Cricklade,” said the Bassett boss.
“They’re not a bogey team, in my head I don’t see them like that but I am wary of them. Local derbies can see things go out the window so we’re a little bit wary of them.”
Elsewhere in the division, Malmesbury manager Simon Winstone is not sure if the Flying Monk surface will survive this week’s rain, allowing tomorrow’s home game against Hook to go ahead.
“We’re desperate to get the game on but it’s touch and go,” he said.
“We trained up there on Tuesday night so fingers crossed the pitch survives the rain.”
Max Sparrow (ankle) is out while Kev Reape is unavailable and Winstone added: “Max is a big player for us, he’s been scoring goals so it’s a bit of bad news.”
New College have a full squad as they host Clanfield while Fairford are on the road to Carterton and Lambourn make the trip to Old Woodstock in an early kick-off (2.15pm).