We’ve intrigue at both ends!

By Ian Townsend

Seven clubs battle over four play off places, Cheshunt and Margate battle to stay out of the last remaining relegation spot- and here’s our preview of Saturday's Premier action

Champions Hornchurch need nine points- and ten goals-from their remaining four matches to reach the magic one hundred on both counts, but they travel to face a side with rather more important things to worry about, fourth from bottom Margate. The Hartsdown Park side somehow came from two down with twelve minutes left to win three-two against Potters Bar Town on Thursday night, a result that made it five unbeaten for the Blues and saw them close to within three points of fifth bottom Cheshunt. Both Gate and the Ambers have horrendous run ins, and a win against the champions looks to be rather a big ask, but if anyone can plot their downfall surely its former boss Mark Stimson? The home faithful still have belief.

Continuing our focus on the wrong end of the table, Cheshunt travel to Billericay Town hoping that they can at least match Margate’s result. The Ambers have four wins from their last six, which doesn’t sound much like relegation form, but coincides with an unbeaten run from Margate as both sides strive to avoid the drop. Billericay have suddenly rediscovered their mojo and won their last three whilst scoring ten goals and conceding only one, and with three matches to go and finding themselves three points away from a top five spot having played more matches than almost all of their rivals, they’ll need to keep winning and cross their fingers.

Back at the top end of the table, second place Chatham Town will hope to mathematically secure their play off spot- and perhaps home advantage in those play offs- as they welcome Folkestone Invicta. The Chats have lost only two of their last ten, whilst with five wins from seven Invicta are on their best form of the season and entirely safe. The sides have met twice this season in League and Kent Cup, the Chats wining both times.

Third place Enfield Town welcome Potters Bar Town to the QEII, the Towners eleven League matches unbeaten and having won six of their last seven. The travelling Scholars have now lost their last four, but will still be wondering how they lost against Margate on Thursday night- indeed, anyone who watched that match will be wondering the same! A home win would go a long way towards guaranteeing a play off place, and having won five of the last six meetings between the sides the hosts will be confident of achieving that against one of their local rivals.

Wingate and Finchley, in fourth, have had a fine campaign- and welcome already relegated North London rivals Haringey Borough on the back of a run which has seen them lose only once in their last ten matches. The visitors have only pride to play for- and having lost their last three matches whilst conceding sixteen goals without scoring, they need to quickly find some of that to give their fabulous fans at least something to sing about.

Fifth place Horsham are back on their own patch, and hoping to hold onto that hard-won fifth spot. The Hornets welcome Cray Wanderers to the Camping World Community Stadium, and have a three point lead over sixth place Billericay Town with two games in hand, a four point lead over seventh place Hastings United with a game in hand, and a six point lead over eighth place Carshalton Athletic with two games in hand. In short, their success is entirely in their own hands- and they have won four of their last five, only perennial bogey side Folkestone Invicta emerging victorious. Wands have only one win in eight, but are entirely safe from any end of season danger.

Hastings United welcome Sussex seaside rivals Whitehawk to Pilot Field. United have four points to make up on fifth place Horsham having played a game more, and might need to win each of their four remaining matches to have a chance of ending the campaign in the top five- but they won’t see that as an impossible task and have lost only one of their last eight. The Hawks are on an upward trend, with only two defeats from ten, and whilst they realistically have only pride to play for we suspect that a derby will bring out a large portion of that. The sides played out a goalless draw way back in August, the Hawks ending that one with nine men.

Carshalton Athletic find themselves six points from the top five with three matches left to play, so their play off hopes hang by a thread despite some find form of late- two defeats from ten, both of them by the narrowest of margins. The Robins welcome Bognor Regis Town to Colston Avenue, the Rocks promotion hopes having evaporated in a run of one win from ten- and none from their last six.

Hashtag United are on a fine run with only one defeat from ten, and look to pick up silverware next Wednesday night as they take on Chatham Town in the Velocity Cup Final at Aveley FC. More about that here. The Tags have only two matches left at the Len Salmon until they move to Aveley for next season, and the first one of those sees already relegated Concord Rangers make the rather short trip.

Rangers neighbours Canvey Island aren’t quite safe from relegation yet, although for Margate to overhaul them Gate would have to win their three remaining matches and the Gulls lose all of the five they have left. Canvey welcome Dulwich Hamlet to the Moviestarr Stadium, the Gulls with only one win from ten, Hamlet having seen their play off hopes depart after three defeats in a row.

Lewes welcome relegated Kingstonian to the Dripping Pan. The Rooks have only three wins from ten but have the Fenix Trophy Finals in Italy to look forward to (along with Enfield Town), whilst the K’s have had a season to forget, and have lost seven of their last eight.

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Where next?

Is it title time for Chertsey Town? Victory will do it, whilst we’ve second v sixth- and Binfield’s great escape bid heads to Guernsey
Ites get back to winning ways in style Sheppey United headed to Havant to take on Horndean- and after falling behind hit back with five!

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