Race for play-off spots heat up

ONLY seven league points separate the five clubs vying for a promotion play-off spot in London 1 with eight games left for teams to show their worth. Both Bury St Edmunds and Colchester are positioned in this exclusive group. Last weekend, fourth placed Colchester successfully overcame arch rivals Chingford and they will be planning to reproduce this form in an away fixture against Old Colfeians.

Sixth placed Bury, for their part, were unconvincing in victory against Letchworth Garden City at The Haberden. They will be looking for improvements in technique in their home encounter against lowly Tabard.

It had been intended that there should be a break from league rugby this weekend allowing players and their supporters a well-earned rest from the campaign.

However, the December white-out has put paid to that suggestion with the postponed fixtures being rearranged for this Saturday. Players will now have to forego the luxury of sitting in an armchair watching their national side compete on television.

In National League 3, Diss are on the road to Gravesend having already conceded 277 points in their five matches in 2011.

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The club is desperately in need of a change of fortune but they have not won a match away from home all season and that elusive victory is unlikely to be recorded in Kent.

In London 2, Ipswich lost by the narrowest of margins to Old Streetonians last weekend. They are on the road again with another hard fixture against Canvey Island.

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Beccles have dragged themselves away from the foot of the table but they have a difficult away game at Chelmsford where they are unlikely to improve their position.

Struggling Mersea Island face Lowestoft and Yarmouth, the top club in London 3, at the East Mersea Activity Centre. Fourth placed Newmarket, also enjoying home advantage, could dent third placed Norwich’s pride in what is expected to be a competitive game.

The big game in Eastern Counties 1 is at West Norfolk where table-toppers Stowmarket are the visitors.

Stowmarket are averaging 35 points per game this season, but their scores have in recent games become less convincing and the result in this match is very difficult to predict.

At the bottom of the league, Thurston are, as yet, without a home win but host Woodbridge who have won only once on the road - making this another difficult one to call, albeit at the wrong end of the table.

Ipswich YM continue to make excellent progress in Eastern Counties 2 where they are eight points ahead with one game in hand. They will not be looking to slip up at Felixstowe.

Third placed Mistley entertain Hadleigh having developed a solid platform this season including being unbeaten at home. Hadleigh have produced good form in recent weeks and will be working hard to prevent Mistley from performing the double. Adam Miles, the Hadleigh head coach, is confident that his team will bring home the points.

In the Essex League 1, Clacton will find the going tough at third placed Millwall while Brightlingsea are scheduled to travel to Dagenham in a bottom of the table encounter.

With the lengthening hours of daylight, kick off times continue at 2.30pm.

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