Halstead Templars will be looking to wrap up the Greene King Eastern Counties League Division Two South title on Saturday, when they host nearest challengers Colchester IV at the Courtauld Sports Ground (3pm).
Halstead top the division with 59 points from 13 games, with Colchester second, 13 points adrift. The Templars have won all seven home matches so far.
Colchester have to win, and deny the Templars any points if they are to keep their title challenge alive.
Two points would be enough for the Templars, who have a far superior points difference of 414 against Colchester’s 177.
When the teams met at Colchester in November, the Templars enjoyed a convincing 51-3 victory.
“We know they will be looking for revenge,” said coach Ed Merry, “and we know that they will come here with a strong side.
“We looked at this fixture earlier in the season and highlighted the match as a big showdown for both of us. And that’s how it’s turned out.
“You are never quite sure of what you will get from Colchester as they have such a big squad, with their third and fourth strings interchangeable.
“But you can only beat what’s in front of you. You have to beat the best.”
Last Saturday’s game at Felixstowe fell victim to the weather, which gave the Templars a welcome rest after their 66-6 Suffolk Chadacre Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Mersea Island seven days earlier.
“We had been thinking about which of our players we needed to rest after the Mersea game,” said Merry, “but the call came through from Felixstowe early enough to resolve that, and we were able to let everyone have a weekend off.”
The Felixstowe match has been rearranged for March 17, and the season ends with a visit to Hadleigh Falcons the following week.
“If we beat Colchester, it will be nice to finish the season not having to worry about other results.”
Halstead were back in training last night, and spent some of the time studying the film of the Mersea game.
“That match was a bit of an eye-opener,” said Merry, “but it showed us what we will be facing next season and the standard we are aiming for.
“It opened the coaches’ eyes to two or three areas that we need to work on.
“We were never expected to win it, but we know the players will react positively.”
Success on Saturday would bring the first league title to a club which was only formed in 2010.
It was formed initially as a social club, and to give players the opportunity to play locally rather than having to travel to Sudbury or Colchester.
“The club has come a long way since then,” said Merry. “We’ve had other promotions through finishing second or through restructure, but never won a title before.”
That trophy’s up for grabs on Saturday, to go alongside the Suffolk Plate, won back in November.