Eastwood prepare for winner-takes-all title clash

Dave Marlow
Dave Marlow

Eastwood CFC joint-boss Dave Marlow says losing is not an option as his team prepares for a winner-takes-all title showdown on Saturday.

The Red Badgers go to Sherwood Colliery on top of the table thanks to a better goal difference, but defeat would see Sherwood win the title and promotion instead.

And even though a draw would be enough for Marlow’s men, he says they will go with a positive attitude.

He said: “Our target all along has been to win the league, but we have won nothing yet and have to finish the job.

“Sherwood have been incredible all season having so far gone unbeaten, and it’s a real shame that only one of us can go up, but we have to ensure it’s us.”

It’s very much a case of the unstoppable force taking on the immovable object, with both sides having won their last 17 league games in a row.

But Marlow says his players won’t be fazed by the enormity of the occasion, nor the task facing them.

He said: “There’s a great pitch there and a great setup and hopefully there will be a big crowd too, so it’s a massive occasion.

“But we’ve got plenty of players who have played the big occasions before and I don’t think it will worry them. The prize at stake is the title and promotion and, like Sherwood, we’ll have every confidence we can do it.

“The kind of run we’ve been on shows the self belief we have in the team to win games, even matches like the 1-0 win at Swanwick on Tuesday which wasn’t as comfortable as many we’ve had this season.

“But we’ve kept our noses in front on goal difference which could prove so important.”

Promotion to the East Midlands Counties League is perhaps the biggest prize on offer from Saturday’s game, and should Eastwood achieve it they’ll have made their first step up the pyramid since forming in 2014.

Marlow added: “It’s been the aspiration of this club to get up the pyramid and with the infrastructure and setup we have there is no question we are ready for it.

“But that means nothing if we lose on Saturday so those kinds of thoughts have to be put on the back burner until we’ve achieved the job in hand.”

Marlow wants a strong following of fans from across the area to get behind his team at Saturday’s game.

Eastwood have been well supported at home and away all season but with the match being so highly anticipated for several weeks, Marlow is hoping that it won’t just be the loyal Badgers hardcore that turn out.

He said: “For a long time now everyone has been talking about this league and the fact that the top two were destined to battle it out for the title on the final day.

“There is great interest in this league across the region and I imagine it’ll be a carnival atmosphere on Saturday.

“We have great support and I hope as many as possible will be there to cheer us on. There will be lots of neutrals there too that have a great interest in the local game, but to have a vocal following behind us could count for a lot.

“So I hope plenty will make the trip and we can get the promotion we so desperately want.”