The only way is Essex for Bury Town this Christmas — but instead of settling down for turkey and a TV special, they have three crucial matches.
The Blues host East Thurrock United tomorrow (3pm), travel to Canvey Island on Boxing Day (1pm) and welcome AFC Hornchurch to Ram Meadow on December 28 (3pm) in the Ryman League Premier Division.
With a 10-point gap between themselves and the play-off places, Bury will be hoping some festive cheer can throw them right back into the race for the top five.
“If we win on Saturday, we could go up a couple of places then all of a sudden we are in that battle for the play-offs,” said Blues boss Richard Wilkins, whose side begin the weekend ninth in the table.
“Christmas always throws up funny results, but it’s probably the most important part of the season because you play so many games in a short amount of time.”
Bury have injury concerns over Ryan Semple (hamstring), Danny Cunningham (ribs) and John Kennedy (ankle), while David Bridges is definitely out with a broken finger.
Semple and Cunningham became the Suffolk side’s latest casualties after picking up their problems in Saturday’s hard-fought 2-0 win at Harrow Borough, which came courtesy of goals from Adam Bailey-Dennis and Billy Clark.
Wilkins said: “It was one of those games where I got a great deal of satisfaction – not from a footballing point of view, but from a work ethic and team spirit point of view.”
Boxing Day could bring a reunion with last season’s top scorer John Sands when Bury travel to Canvey Island, but the former Mildenhalll Town striker has not featured since his debut for the Gulls because of a broken jaw.
However, Wilkins is still expecting a tough test against Canvey with both sides having improved greatly since Bury lost the reverse fixture 1-0 on August 26.
“We always have tight games against Canvey and I’m sure it will be again,” he said.
n Can’t make the game tomorrow? Keep up to date with Saturday’s match live by logging on to www.buryfreepress.co.uk/sport/live-sport or by following @S_MURLEY on Twitter.