Bulls hope for backing as they prepare for massive promotion clash

Rudy Funk
Rudy Funk

NCEL Premier leaders AFC Mansfield are hoping for good local support when they take on title rivals Pickering Town in a massive showdown on Saturday (3pm).

The Bulls have an eight point lead at the top after Saturday’s 4-0 home win over Staveley MW, but it remains on a knife-edge with second-placed Pontefract having five games in hand and Pickering, also eight points behind, having three games in hand.

Boss Rudy Funk said: “It’s all set for a great encounter and it would be nice to have a bit of support to see two teams go head to head in such a massive game.

“If people come they will definitely enjoy it as there is lots of good football played in this division.

“In my opinion this is a game which will decide each club’s destiny. We are both very close to each other.

“We are riding high in top spot but they have games in hand on us and it will be very interesting to see the outcome.

“I am not saying whoever wins will get promoted, but they will have a massive leap towards it.”

He added: “We have had an absolutely terrific season so far and, if Lady Luck is with us and we win on Saturday, that would be a little bit of icing on the cake.

“We are in good shape. Everything is right. Nicky Guest was our only long term injury but he’s just come back into training now.

“He may be available for selection for the first time.”

AFC Mansfield know what a huge opportunity this season offers to them.

Funk explained: “This year is the first time since the NCEL was formed that two will go up due to a massive reshuffle in non-League. So it’s a massive opportunity for anyone in the top five.

“This game is a great chance to help us make progress in the national system.”

AFC Mansfield have only lost once in 23 matches and are unbeaten in the last five. They have also only lost two league games all season.

They go into the Pickering clash in good heart after Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Staveley MW.

“It was a tough game against Staveley on Saturday,” said Funk.

“They are in a relegation fight and came with a game plan which worked.

“It took us about 40 minutes to get to grips with them. But after we scored our first goal we exploited the areas where they left gaps for a comfortable win.

The Bulls won a 3-2 thriller up at Pickering earlier this season so know they are capable of completing a priceless double.

But Funk warned: “We did win there, but you know how football is. You can be in your best form but it’s all about on the day.

“Pickering are a very good side and they’ve got some fantastic players. But so have we. The lads are all up for it and ready for it.”