Bartley will have much clearer idea of Marlow's chances after 'must-win' clash with Basingstoke

Mark Bartley will have a much clearer idea as to whether his Marlow side can qualify for the play-offs after Saturday's 'must-win' home game with Basingstoke Town.

There's likely to be plenty of needle in the match after the Blues beat Town 1-0 back in December during a tetchy encounter which saw Bradley Wilson controversially sent off following a clash with Marlow keeper Simon Grant.

The Basingstoke players and supporters felt that Grant overplayed the incident - as well as his injury - leading to Wilson's dismissal, and there'll be no love lost between the sides when they meet at Oak Tree Road this Saturday.

Basingstoke come into the game currently holding onto the fifth and final play-off spot and, with just five games to play, defeat for the Blues would surely end their promotion hopes once and for all.

However, on the flip side a victory for the hosts would put them right back in the mix with another winnable home game to follow against 15th placed Sutton Common Rovers the following weekend.

However, if they're to do that Bartley knows his side must check their recent inconsistent form. After two consecutive 1-0 wins over Tooting & Mitcham and Ashford Town, they were beaten 2-0 by play-off rivals Uxbridge and now sit seventh in the Isthmian League South Central standings, four points adrift of the top five.

“At the moment it looks like no one wants to do it (qualify for the top five), said Bartley. “Bedfont picked up a great result against Basingstoke (4-2) at the weekend and that just pushes them to the next level. We play Basingstoke on Saturday who've had a couple of tricky matches as well and it turns that game into a bit of a must-win for us. If we can beat them, it pulls them towards us and a few of the other teams who have still got to play each other.

“We've just got to make sure we go and get a result at home to Basingstoke and, if we do that, we'll pull ourselves back into it. If we don't then it's looking extremely difficult to achieve it. If we could beat Basingstoke and Bedfont were to beat Hanwell, then we'd be sitting just a point off Basingstoke and two points off Hanwell so it's still there for us to play for and we've got to focus on that.”

Bartley wasn't too discouraged by his side's performance at Uxbridge on Saturday but admitted the concession of an early penalty enabled them to settle into the game quicker than the Blues.

“We weren't happy with the result, but the performance was ok,” he said.

“The penalty helped them to settle after just four minutes and their second goal was a great strike. But to get that gift of an early goal allowed them to relax and that told in the end.

“In the second half we created a number of openings where it didn't quite fall for us, and we've had some chances where we could have possibly done better.”

Looking ahead to Saturday's crucial looking home clash he added: “Yes, there's no love lost between the two teams. From Basingstoke’s point of view, they will be desperate to put one over us. But if you want to be successful at the top end of the table then you have to look forward to these games.

“On paper, this is a tough game, but if we get the right result then we give ourselves every opportunity. But they will be looking to try and even the score because they were far from happy in the last game, even though I felt we were much the better side.”

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