A trip to the league leaders followed by two home games, including a play-off chasing outfit, beckons for AFC Sudbury over an eight-day period — but manager Jamie Godbold is targeting at least seven points.
The Yellows go into the busy festive run of games still 14th in the Ryman League Premier Division, but following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at previous bottom side Harrow Borough, they have gone from six to just four points above the four relegation places.
Despite only having two wins from their last six league matches, a trip to top-of-the-tree Suffolk rivals Needham Market on Boxing Day (1pm), followed by hosting relegation-threatened Canvey Island on Saturday, December 31 (1pm), before Godbold’s former side Lowestoft Town visit on Monday, January 2 (3pm), will hold no fear, according to the boss.
“We have three games and three very winnable games in my opinion,” said Godbold, who feels his side have under-achieved over the last six weeks, something he is confident they are going to put behind them.
“We will be using these as an opportunity to see what seven to nine points can do for us over this period, to lift us up the table,” he added of his promoted side.
“We are around about where we expected to be.
“The same happened last year and after Christmas we put a big run together.
“Our performances over the last few weeks suggest we have the potential to do the same.”
An early Reece Dobson strike knocked AFC out of the county cup at Bloomfields only last month.
But with Needham in their second season at step three of the non-league pyramid, the last league meetings was back in the 2014/15 campaign, with a fiery affair at Needham on New Year’s Day seeing ex-Sudbury boss Mark Morsley’s side complete the league double with a 1-0 win in a match which saw the visitors have two players, in Craig Pope and Lee Flynn, sent off.
Godbold and his assistant Andy Reynolds will be experiencing the red-and-yellow derby played for league points for the first time on Boxing Day, though, with academy chief Danny Laws having been in caretaker charge for the last one, following the departure of David Batch to St Neots Town.
“I have always enjoyed playing in derbies and the lads will be the same,” said Godbold, who has again laid down no set instructions on Christmas Day diet as he puts his trust in his players.
“They (Needham) are flying high and if you excuse the pun, it is all set up to be a Christmas cracker.
“We will be going there with plenty of confidence as we are unbeaten in three (all competitions, including toppling higher-league Gosport Borough in the FA Trophy) and I really fancy us to go there and get something from the game.”
Recent signing Erkan Okay will miss the next two games through suspension, though, after picking up four yellow cards in his first four AFC appearances, while Boxing Day is likely to have come too early for former Needham man Jack Wilkinson’s injury return.
But AFC are otherwise at full strength, with Rob Eagle (hamstring) and Tyler French both fit again.
n Sudbury must wait longer to find out their second round proper opponents in The Buildbase FA Trophy after Altrincham and Macclesfield drew 1-1 on Tuesday, with a replay set for a week today (December 29).