Braintree boss nails his colours to Chelmsford’s mast

THE race for conference football might be well and truly in the hands of league leaders Braintree Town.

But with closest rivals Farnborough arriving in Essex to meet play-off hopefuls Chelmsford City, Town boss Rod Stringer has insisted: “I’m a Chelmsford supporter for the weekend.”

Four points clear with four games to go, Stringer can afford to crack a joke. And his smile could get even wider if Chelmsford do their local rivals a massive favour today – and aid their own promotion aspirations at the same time.

If that happens, and Braintree beat Havant & Waterlooville just 15 miles away, the Blue Square Bet South title should be heading to Cressing Road.

The prospect of such a phenomenal achievement has left Stringer daring to dream about pitting his wits against the likes of Grimsby, Darlington and Cambridge United.

The manager said: “You can’t ask for a better position. It would be magnificent if we went up, just fantastic to see Braintree sitting in the Blue Square Bet Premier. It is a massive game for Chelmsford and possibly a good time to play Farnborough, but we can only worry about ourselves.”

Indeed, events at the Melbourne Stadium might count for nothing if Braintree fail to beat ninth-place Havant in front of an expectant home crowd.

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They seem to have overcome a recent blip with Town now four games unbeaten and Stringer believes six more points could be all that’s needed.

He said: “Everyone wants to beat the league leaders so we have to make sure we do our job against Havant. I actually think Farnborough will drop some more points before the end of the season so two wins from our last four games should be enough. And if we win today, and Chelmsford beat Farnborough, I think it might be over.”

Braintree will once again be without their captain, Mark Jones, but Ryan Peters has filled in at the back admirably of late. And with an embarrassment of riches now at his disposal at the other end, Stringer hinted he would go with in-form Cliff Akurang and Sean Marks upfront. Former QPR striker Kevin Gallen might have to settle for a place on the bench.