Cleeve chasing derby boost ahead of relegation battle
THERE will be no better way for Bishop's Cleeve to prepare for Saturday's Southern League survival scrap with Winchester City than by claiming a derby victory against Cinderford Town tonight.
The Villagers welcome the Foresters to Kayte Lane (7.30pm) with Gloucestershire bragging rights and vital Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South and West points at stake.
Win, and Cleeve will leap off the bottom table with Saturday's visitors Winchester replacing them in the lone relegation spot ahead of the vital six-pointer.
And boss Alex Sykes will be clear in using that as a massive motivation ahead of the visit of the Foresters to Kayte Lane.
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"We go into the game on the back of a win in our last home game and in the knowledge that it will set us up for a vital six-pointer on Saturday," Sykes said.
"We don't want to put any more pressure on Saturday's game but the lads aren't stupid and realise the importance of it.
"And they also know that the Cinderford game is one of our games in hand on Winchester and psychologically it would be big to go above them before Saturday's match.
"To get some momentum ahead of Saturday is key – both in performance and in terms of the result – so we bounce in to the Winchester on the back of some positives.
"We have a big week coming up as we play Taunton on Monday and it will be hard work, but we have to gain from it."
The Villagers will be given one major boost going into the game with defensive lynchpin Sam Avery's return to action after an ankle injury.
The big centre-half could have made his comeback in Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Shortwood United but with the vital week ahead, Sykes chose not to gamble on his fitness.
"Sam will be back with us tonight and in all honesty he could have played on Saturday," Sykes said.
"But with this game and then Winchester coming up we took the decision not to risk him knowing that a knock to the ankle could have set him back two to three weeks.
"The only injuries we have currently are ones picked up by me and Rosey (assistant boss Matt Rose) and if that's all, then we're fine!"
Cheltenham Town youngsters Michael Gonzalo and Zack Kotwica had solid debuts at Shortwood and should be involved so long as they came through a Robins youth game against Exeter City yesterday unscathed.
Gloucester City striker Joe Parker should also be involved but a Hartpury College game this afternoon may restrict his involvement.
Ghanaian goalkeeper Jimmy Nortei will also be in Hartpury action today, but should be fine to take full part tonight.