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Suddenly, Hastings look vulnerable. Can the Nuts and Bolts take advantage?

By Ian Townsend

Our leaders have lost twice to second place Ashford United- and seen their lead cut to one point. Who will triumph- and can Whitehawk, Cray Valley PM or Herne Bay yet crash the party? It's our South East preview.

With only one win from their last five matches Hastings United remain on top of the South East table, but only by one point as the only side to beat them this season, Ashford United, have closed the gap. The Nuts and Bolts haven’t just beaten Hastings once, they’ve done it twice- but the significance of that must be tempered with the knowledge that those two defeats are the only ones suffered by the Pilot Field side all season. Perhaps most concerning to Chris Agutter’s side might not be those defeats, but the three draws they have experienced in the last five matches- they need to get back to winning ways and put some daylight between themselves and their opposition.

Hastings travel along the A27- they’ll need to set off early, it’s awful- to Chichester City this weekend. City have been in great form of late, moving up to seventh place courtesy of only two defeats from their last ten- and although they are nine points off a playoff place, they have four games in hand over each of the top five. MATCH POSTPONED.

Ashford United face another Sussex side, as Haywards Heath Town head to Homelands. The Nuts and Bolts have taken twenty seven points from their last thirty, and are in imperious form, whilst their visitors have taken nine points from the same period and only one point from their last five matches.

Cray Valley PM have bounced back to form in style with five consecutive victories. The Millers travel to face bottom side East Grinstead Town, who seem to have been resurrected of late, taking four points from their last six and moving to within five points of second bottom Ramsgate.

The Rams have the rather formidable task of hosting Whitehawk. The Hawks have closed to within four points of the top of the table with a run which has seen them lose once in their last ten matches, and will be confident against a side who have picked up only five points during the same period.

Herne Bay, in fifth, host VCD Athletic. Bay came back from the dead to grab a point at Faversham in midweek, and are rather difficult to beat, losing only one of their last ten. Vickers fans will hope that their side is on the up after going two matches unbeaten, a run which followed four consecutive defeats.

There are six points between Herne Bay and sixth place Whyteleafe, so there will be no new names in the top five by dinner time on Saturday. Leafe host Faversham hoping to close that gap, and hoping to build on last weekend’s win against Sevenoaks Town; whilst the Lilywhites have only won one of their last ten but really should have held on for three points against Herne Bay in midweek, so will hopefully be confident going into this fixture.

Guernsey, in eighth, travel to Hythe Town for a match that should be finished before the rest start. The Green Lions lost to Chichester last time out, that defeat putting to an end a four match unbeaten run; whilst the Cannons have only lost one of their last ten but have seen their climb up the table slowed by three consecutive draws.

Sevenoaks Town travel to Sittingbourne. The Brickies have lost four in a row and don’t have a win in six matches, whilst Oaks have only one win in five and have seen their playoff challenge falter.

A mid table clash sees Phoenix Sports entertain Whitstable Town. Both sides have aspirations to be higher up the table, but Sports have lost their last two matches whilst the Oysterboys have only one point from their last two matches, bringing to an end a run of three consecutive victories. Only a point separates the two at start of day. MATCH POSTPONED.

Finally, Burgess Hill Town host Three Bridges. The Hillians were walloped at Horsham in the Velocity Trophy in midweek, and have been inconsistent in the league, with three wins and three defeats from their last six. Bridges have played two consecutive matches against bottom side East Grinstead Town and taken only one point, and have only seven from their last thirty. They are eight points clear of the Wasps but have played two games more, so would love to settle relegation nerves with more points.

Where next?

Vickers sign a Brickie Ainsley Everett heads to Oakwood
Is it a two-horse race for the title- and an eight horse race for the playoffs? Hanwell Town and Ware have opened up a gap. Can they be caught? And with only eight points between third and tenth, who might force their way into the top five? It’s our preview of all the South Central action.

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