Hemel Town face a playoff six-pointer against Gosport Borough at Vauxhall Road on Saturday as both sides look to close in on a top-five spot.
The Tudors currently sit in ninth place in the division, four points adrift of fifth placed Maidenhead United, but with a game in hand.
Gosport, meanwhile, have occupied a playoff spot for most of the season, but a dismal run of form has seen them slip to seventh – although they remain just two points behind Maidenhead.
A win for either team on Saturday would thrust them right back into the playoff mix, however a defeat could signal a significant dent in their aspirations of catching the sides above them.
Hemel go into the game on the back of a 2-1 loss at second placed Maidstone United last time out, with their Easter Monday clash with St Albans City having been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Things were no better for Gosport, who are currently on a four-game losing streak which included a 3-0 thumping by Whitehawk on Saturday. They have also been beaten by Sutton United, Concord Rangers and Ebbsfleet since the start of March.
We always respect the opposition, and we have to give Gosport maximum respect because they are still a very good side with everything to play for.Hemel Town FC manager Dean Brennan
Hemel last met Gosport at the end of October, when a hat-trick from the since departed Jamie Slabber fired the Tudors to a thumping 6-2 victory at Privett Park.
Despite this, and Gosport’s poor recent form, Hemel boss Dean Brennan is not underestimating the threat posed by the south coast club.
“We know that Gosport are a good side who are going through a difficult period,” he said. “I’m always cautious about teams when they are on a bad run, because they are coming here with nothing to lose really.
“We always respect the opposition, and we have to give Gosport maximum respect because they are still a very good side with everything to play for. It’s a very big game.
“They have a very experienced management team and they are a team that we have always had good games against. They are a team who we are very wary of, and they have a forward in Justin Bennett who is probably the best forward in the division.
“I say it every week, but if you are not on your game in this division, you are not going to win games of football. We have to be at our best, and it is crucial that every player works their socks off and sticks to the gameplan.”
A few weeks ago, Brennan dismissed his side’s chances of making the playoffs, but he now concedes that they are right in the mix,
“If we get the revised points target that we have set ourselves, we will get into the playoffs – it’s that simple,” he continued. “Our aim was to get 50 points to make sure we stayed in the division and now we have set ourselves another target.
“We have got five players out this weekend, all of whom will be a big loss to us, but it’s a good opportunity for other players to come into the team and take their chance.
Hemel will be without Michael Richens (suspended), Nikolay Todarov, James Potton, Xavier Vidal and Ed Asafu-Adjaye (all injured) for Saturday’s game.