“Anyone can win it” says Crawford

INJURY DOUBT: Ryan Stafford
INJURY DOUBT: Ryan Stafford

Stuart Crawford believes any of the top five teams could lift the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division title next Saturday.

Hadleigh United are one of the five sides separated by just five points ahead of their penultimate league fixture at CRC this weekend.

The Brettsiders visit the R Costings Abbey Stadium on Saturday (3pm) in second place and only one point behind current leaders Felixstowe and Walton United — a previously unthinkable scenario when Crawford’s side were 19 points clear at the top of the division in January.

But a run of six matches without a win has seen the Millfield-based outfit no longer in control of their destiny.

“The key thing for us is that it’s not in our hands anymore,” said the Hadleigh boss. “The players can play with no pressure. The pressure is now on Felixstowe and Brightlingsea Regent.

“And whoever has been in the driving seat so far has buckled, ourselves included.”

With the three teams below United each having a game in hand, to be played next week, there is a possibility the top five could be divided by just three points going into the final day of the season a week on Saturday.

“I’m convinced there will be more twists and turns before the end of the season,” Crawford said. “Anyone in the top five can win it now.”

Hadleigh returned to winning ways on Monday with a convincing 4-0 win at Brantham Athletic to keep the pressure on the Seasiders at the top.

Goals from Duane Wright, Mark Goldfinch, James Blades and Josh Mayhew gave the Brettsiders their first three-point haul in seven games.

“It was a relief to shake off the dreadful run,” Crawford added. “Now we need to go into the last two games positive that we can win both of them too.

“The lads are confident so we’ve just got to go out and try and take it to the last game next Saturday.

“If we are in with a chance on the final day we’ll be happy.”

United will be without Liam Jennings (suspension), Richard Logan and Tesfaye Bramble (both injured), while Crawford will assess the fitness of Ryan Stafford and Matt Downing before the weekend.