The Easter weekend is a crucial time for most clubs but for our local non-League teams it presents them with some of the biggest matches of the season.
Last Saturday, relegation threatened Hayes & Yeading United pulled off one of the shock results of the weekend when they grabbed a last-minute goal to win 2-1 at high-flying Southport.
Nas Bashir’s struggling side have now won three of their last six games and look like being the only team currently in the Blue Square Bet Premier bottom four who could escape.
However, with only five games to bridge a four-point gap the task is still a tough one.
The challenge begins with a home game on Saturday against Cambridge United. The U’s are currently 11th and realistically have little to play for at this stage of the season.
On Monday United face a far harder opponent in Luton Town, who are still scrapping for points to ensure a place in the play-offs. They currently lie three points outside the top five but have two games in hand so will want the win just as much as the visitors.
Hampton & Richmond Borough continue their fight to avoid relegation from the Blue Square Bet South against Farnborough on Saturday.
The Beavers’ recent resurgence has lifted them out of the bottom three but they suffered their first defeat in seven on Monday night at Boreham Wood as they used up one of their two games in hand.
Given their overall improved form, manager Mark Harper will be disappointed if his side do not pick up three points as Farnborough are on a poor run which has seen them lose four of their last five games.
Arguably the match of the weekend for our local sides will take place at Uxbridge’s Honeycroft ground on Monday night when Hampton then take on Wealdstone in the Middlesex Senior Cup final.
This game provides both clubs with the chance of winning a decent bit of silverware and it is quite hard to call who will win.
Although the Stones play a division below in the Ryman League, they have had a generally far more positive season than their opponents and with 42-goal striker Richard Jolly (pictured above) in their team should provide decent opposition.
It is not just about the cup though for Gordon Bartlett’s team, who also have a very real chance of stealing into the play-offs right at the death.
Despite a lengthy fixture backlog, brought on by their cup commitments, they are still winning and are now just five points off fifth place with seven games to go.
A win on Saturday at home to Kingstonian, a side who by their own manager’s admission have only just relinquished their promotion ambitions, would really lift them.
However, for many Stones fans the match of the week is on Wednesday night when they travel the short distance to Earlsmead for the derby against Harrow Borough.
The rivalry between these two is probably as intense as it gets between any non-League clubs in the West London Sport area. The last time they met, on Boxing Day, Boro were crushed 4-0 in front of a crowd of nearly 900 – almost double the Stones’ average attendance.
With it being midweek and QPR also playing at home it’s unlikely to reach that level this time, but with Harrow also chasing every point to avoid the drop, the crowd should be substantial.
An away win would appear to be the likely outcome but Dave Anderson’s Boro side are really unpredictable at the moment.
Back-to-back defeats against Aveley and Canvey Island plunged them back into the relegation zone but on Tuesday they picked up a resounding 3-0 win at East Thurrock, which saw them jump three places back up the table.
A victory at fifth-placed Cray Wanderers, who recently lost at home to struggling Leatherhead, on Saturday could see them end the day six points above the relegation places with just four matches to play.
One side who would really profit from a Harrow win would be Hendon, who are still just one point behind Cray.
The Greens, who play in Wembley, have a very agreeable looking Easter fixture list with matches against mid-table Margate and north London rivals Wingate & Finchley.
Although both these sides could mathematically still be promoted or relegated it is very unlikely either will happen, meaning they will have little other than pride to play for.
Given how close the battle for fifth place in the Ryman Premier currently is, two wins appear almost essential if Hendon are to keep up.
All Premier and Football League season-ticket holders get half-price admission to all our local non-league sides’ home league matches. Check their websites for details.