Hemel Hempstead Town will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to five games when they travel to National League South basement boys Basingstoke on Saturday.
The Tudors go into the game on the back of three wins and a draw from their last four games, including a straightforward 2-0 victory over Havant & Waterlooville in their last outing.
Basingstoke sit bottom of the table after a dismal first half of the season, but their form has picked up recently, with two wins from their last two league fixtures, and Hemel manager Dean Brennan knows his side won’t have things all their own way.
“Basingstoke are a very good side, and we will try to improve on last week, where we allowed Havant to have a couple of chances which I wasn’t too pleased with,” said Brennan.
“However, I was delighted with the clean sheet and the manner in which we went about the game.
“I’m absolutely shocked that Basingstoke are in the position that they are in because they have got some fantastic players like (Chris) Flood, (Lloyd) Macklin, Manny Williams and Dom Hyam.
I know they are bottom of the table but I’m really cautious because I know that they are a very good team.Hemel Town FC manager Dean Brennan
“They’ve got a good manager who has a great understanding of the game, and I’m shocked with the position they find themselves in.
“When I have watched them play, I can’t believe some of the games they have lost because they have been the better team in a lot of them.
“I think they are really good side, so whether they are just not getting the breaks, I’m not sure.
“I know they are bottom of the table but I’m really cautious because I know that they are a very good team.”
A win for ninth-placed Hemel could see them climb up four places into the playoff positions, but Brennan insists he is not looking that far ahead just yet.
“I won’t know about the playoffs until April,” he said. “I just have a points target and I know that we are a good deal away from that at the moment.”
Hemel will again be forced into changes to their starting XI, with Oliver Hawkins on the verge of signing for Dagenham & Redbridge, Michael Richens and Kyle Connolly suspended, Ben Herd a doubt, and Ed Asafu-Adjaye out for 2-4 weeks with a knee injury.
New loan signings Nikolay Todorov, Luke Thomas and Mitchell Blundell could be available, along with Luton Town loanee Zane Banton, who has extended his stay with the club.
“We will have three or four changes to the team again, which isn’t ideal because we just want to be able to field a settled side,” said Brennan.
“But that’s just the way it goes and that is the business we are in – we will just be taking it one game at a time.”