JOHN Sands has promised to hit a hot streak to fire Bury Town to two cup finals and the Ryman League play-offs after his match-winning brace at Hastings United on Tuesday night.
The former Mildenhall Town striker has become an Alan Boon Ryman League Cup specialist, netting five goals in three matches during this season’s competition, including his quarter-final double in Sussex.
Although he has struggled to discover that sort of form in the league, netting just twice in 16 Ryman Premier matches, Sands hopes he is over a goal drought that saw him go six weeks without hitting the target.
“I’m enjoying the cups,” he said. “It was a really good win on Tuesday night and we are now in two semi-finals so hopefully we can pick up some silverware this season.
“I’ve had a bit of a goal drought where I couldn’t score — usually I’d have had a lot more goals under my belt by now.
“I scored a couple on Tuesday night and it lifted such a weight from my shoulders — as soon as I hit my stride I’ll be on a hot streak.”
Blues’ manager Richard Wilkins added: “This is the time, where he’s had a bit of a dip, he now needs to kick on again.
“His work-rate is very good — he just needs to calm down, get his head up early and play what he sees.”
With Sam Reed struggling to overcome a knee injury — he was not risked at Hastings — Sands could lead the line at home to second-placed AFC Hornchurch in the Ryman Premier tomorrow (3pm), while teenager Connor Hall could be handed his first league start if Mark Coulson (thigh) is ruled out.
Of England Colleges player Hall, Wilkins added: “He’s a confident lad and he did very well on Tuesday, so we’ll chuck him in if he’s needed.
“He’s certainly got the attributes to be a Bury Town player for years to come.”
Tom Bullard and Craig Nurse return from suspension, but Danny Cunningham is absent for the first of two matches after picking up 10 yellow cards this season, although it does coincide with a calf injury that needs two weeks of rest.
Billy Clark (ankle) was due to be assessed last night, while Roscoe Hipperson (hamstring) and Elliot Hunter (knee) remain sidelined.
Wilkins hopes to take advantage of the absence of Hornchurch’s 16-goal top scorer Martin Tuohy when the two sides clash at Ram Meadow tomorrow and expects his players to raise their game once again.
“We don’t seem to have as much issue playing the top teams,” he said. “It’s the sides below us we have problems with.”
n Luke Ingram has gone on loan to AFC Sudbury for four months.
Bury (from): Bullard, Clark, Coulson, Garnham, Hall, Kearns, Kennedy, Leabon, Nunn, Nurse, L Reed, S Reed, Sands, Short, Smith.