Friends reunited but not today

BURY Town manager Rickard Wilkins knows he needs to get one over his good friend Nicky Smith today if his side are to stand any chance of reaching the play-offs.

Stuart Watson

Friends reunited

- but not today

By Stuart Watson

BURY Town manager Rickard Wilkins knows he needs to get one over his good friend Nicky Smith today if his side are to stand any chance of reaching the play-offs.

Smith's AFC Sudbury arrive at Ram Meadow comfortably placed in the middle of the British Gas Business League Midlands Division One table with nothing else to play for but local derby pride.

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In contrast Bury are amongst a trio of teams that are desperately trying to chase down the final play-off spot over the remaining eight games of the season.

On paper, AFC Sudbury are the second-lowest ranked team that Bury have got left over their testing run-in, but Wilkins isn't reading anything into that.

He said: “When there are local bragging rights on offer the league positions of the relevant clubs doesn't matter. In our run-in Sudbury are going to be one our hardest games because of the derby mentality.

“We certainly need the points more than them, but I'm sure they will be looking to come and spoil things for us.”

The man who will be plotting Bury's downfall today will be AFC Sudbury boss Nicky Smith who Wilkins has built up a strong relationship with this season after the two sides were controversially moved across from the Ryman League.

“I've known Nicky (Smith) for many a year,” said Wilkins. “We never played in the same team because he went to Colchester just a few months after I left, but we've talked an awful lot this season and give each other information on other teams. There is a lot of camaraderie.

“I think he has done a super job under difficult circumstances at Sudbury. A lot of his players left in the summer and he has had to rebuild and bring in a lot of youngsters.

“In many ways it's roles reversed for the two clubs because a few years ago Sudbury were the team everyone looked up to and now maybe we are more consolidated as a footballing team whereas they are starting from scratch.”

Bury are now unbeaten in 14 league games, but Wilkins was left frustrated this week after seeing his side held to two consecutive goalless draws against Bromsgrove Rovers and Marlow respectively.

“We have let four points slip and the last two games feel like a defeat,” said Wilkins. “We'd not had a 0-0 draw all season and then two come along at a really bad time.

“The pressure of knowing that we need to win games might just be getting to a few of them. I just think that we are snatching at shots and that a bit of panic and anxiety is maybe creeping in.

“The last week has been disappointing because it makes the task harder, but we're still in the race. We now need six points from the next two games.”

Elsewhere, in the Ridgeons League Premier Division, third-place Leiston, who have returned to form with two consecutive wins, visit Harwich & Parkeston.

Sixth-placed Kirkley & Pakefield welcome Tiptree United, Needham Market visit Histon Reserves, while mid-table Walsham-le-Willows visit Wivenhoe Town.

Meanwhile, Felixstowe & Walton United travel to Ely City, Woodbridge Town host Mildenhall Town and Haverhill Rovers are away to King's Lynn Reserves.

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