Bedford Athletic v Spalding RFC (Saturday, 2.15pm): STRUGGLING Town are hoping to ignite their season this weekend – but they’ll have to do it without two key performers.
Former skipper Andrew Branton will miss the rest of the season after breaking a bone in his neck in Saturday’s 10-8 loss to Market Rasen, while fellow prop Pete Waudby broke his ankle at training on Tuesday.
That leaves Harry Sharman and his side with an ample hole to fill, which could filled by a familiar face.
Peter Shakespeare, an ex-Town captain, could come straight into the line-up just hours after returning from a three-month stint in Japan.
Current Spalding skipper Sharman said: “The two injuries are a massive blow. Branny’s neck is worse than we first thought and Pete has to go in for an operation.
“We could easily be without them both for the rest of the season. Obviously everyone at the club wishes them a speedy recovery.
“We’ve been in contact with Peter Shakespeare and there’s a chance he’ll be able to help us out on Saturday, but he lands on Friday so we’ll have to wait and see.”
Defeat to rivals Rasen was a bitter pill for Town to take. But they’ve watched the game back on video and are keen to take the positives.
Sharman insists that his side don’t fear relegation – but with only points difference keeping them off the bottom of Midlands One East, Saturday’s trip to midd-table Bedford is one they must target to end their four-game losing streak.
“I’m hoping Bedford will consider us a soft touch,” admitted Sharman, who is available for selection despite last weekend’s red card. “They’ll look at the table and see we’re struggling, which could work in our favour.
“They’re a fast, young side like ourselves and we just beat them earlier in the season.
“The lads aren’t too downhearted after watching the video of the Rasen game and I reckon we’re just a win away from turning things around.
“I’m not worried about relegation. We’ve got the team and coaches to get ourselves out of trouble and our run-in looks quite favourable, with four of the last six at home.”
Town, who have lost all eight of their games away from home in the league, welcome back Chris Crane and Kevin Childs to the first team.
But they’ll find Bedford a tough nut to crack. All five of their wins this season have come at home – including a recent success over high-flying Paviors.