With five games left this season, Sittingbourne – on 53 points – take on Whyteleafe – on 51 points – at Woodstock on Saturday.
But for Sittingbourne it’s not just a squabble to see who can secure 15th place in Ryman South.
For a start, winning three more games out of those remaining five would give Sittingbourne their highest points total for eight seasons.
And if that wasn’t enough incentive, then there’s the small matter of players battling to prove they’re worth a place in manager Nick Davis’s plans for next season.
All four front players – Keanu Williams, Chris Regis, Gil Carvalho and Kane Phillip – are comparatively new to the club and have still to completely prove themselves.
It’s been far from easy for them as they’ve only played together as a unit in the last couple of games, and there they’ve come up against two of the strongest defences in the league.
As a result they haven’t scored in either game as Sittingbourne lost 1-0 at home to second-placed Dorking Wanderers a fortnight ago, and 4-0 at Corinthian Casuals last Saturday.
Up against a Whyteleafe side who have lost eight of their last twelve games will be a totally different challenge for them and they would hope to have a lot more chance to prove themselves.
Scoring goals has become something of a problem for Sittingbourne as Miles Cornwell is in pole position to win the golden boot as the club’s top scorer this season – and he left to join Folkestone Invicta more than five months ago.
Sittingbourne lost influential captain Jono Richardson with a groin injury in the first half of last Saturday’s game, and his organisational skills were clearly missed when Corinthian Casuals scored their crucial second goal by catching out the defence at a free-kick.
But at least they have Joe Loft back from suspension to add his industry to the midfield – he’s been missed in the last couple of games.
Despite a poor run over the last couple of months, Whyteleafe have still got some impressive results recently, beating Faversham and drawing with promotion-chasing Greenwich Borough.
But they lost 1-0 to Cray Wanderers last Saturday – despite the efforts of keeper Ben Bridle-Card, who impressed on loan from Maidstone when he covered for the injured Simon Overland in Sittingbourne’s goal earlier this season.
In fact Bridle-Card was in goal for Sittingbourne when Whyteleafe became the first team to beat them in the league this season, winning 4-1 on their artificial pitch in Surrey back in September.
The score flattered Whyteleafe that day, but the victory does mean they can become just the third team this season to complete a double over Sittingbourne – top two Tooting & Mitcham and Dorking Wanderers are the only others.
When Whyteleafe last visited Sittingbourne, back in February last season, they fought back from 3-0 down to score twice but the Brickies held out for the win. Hicham Akhazzan, Dan Hughes and Steven Ita got the goals that day.
Sittingbourne have taken the innovative step of making Saturday's game pay-what-you-like at the turnstile and hope to earn a deserved reward of a bumper attendance.
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