Bugbrooke St Michael’s boss Paul Field says Sileby Rangers will win the UCL Division One title this season.
And he admits everyone else, including his in-form side, are only playing for the runners-up spot.
Bugbrooke battered Wootton Blue Cross last weekend, defying Ian Waldock’s early red card, to claim a 5-2 victory.
A hat-trick from Jamie Jollands and singles from Will Briscoe and Richard Pannell did the trick, and the victory saw the Badgers move to within nine points of second-placed Eynesbury, with four games in hand.
Field feels his side’s chances of promotion remain slim, but he is far more confident about what awaits Glenn Botterill’s Sileby, who are currently 10 points clear at the top.
“It’s going to be hard for us because we’ve got some tough games coming up,” said Field, who takes his team to Raunds Town on Saturday.
“People are really just playing for the runners-up spot now because the league is Sileby’s.
“I could see them drawing a couple of games – hopefully one against us – but I can’t see them dropping enough points to lose it.
“Their win at Oadby recently was a sign of how strong Sileby are. They’re a good side and their experience sees them through games. With the budget they’ve got, we just can’t compete, and you’ve just got to turn up for games against those sort of sides and do the best you can.”
Bugbrooke currently sit sixth in the UCL’s second tier after winning back-to-back league games.
And Field is setting his side a target of finishing in the top four this season, admitting a top-two finish is a tough ask.
“I do think we’ll finish in the top four this season and I’d be disappointed if we don’t,” he said. “It’s a big ask to finish in the top two and it’s all about getting the momentum and going again.
“We’ll just keep building. We’ve got a slim chance of promotion but if a couple of results go our way and we pick some points up against the top sides, you never know.”
While Bugbrooke head to Raunds, hoping to repeat their 4-0 success in the reverse fixture on February 6, Sileby, Spencer and ON Chenecks are also in action on Saturday.
Sileby entertain Rushden & Higham United, Spencer host Potton United and ON Chenecks are also at home, to Harrowby United.
Cogenhoe United boss Andy Marks believes his side are a couple of quality players short of finishing in the top four of the UCL Premier Division.
Marks has seen his men endure a poor run of form recently as they have faced some of the league’s biggest hitters.
The Cooks are without a win in their past five league games, but remain sixth in the standings, with 11 matches remaining.
They travel to Yaxley on Saturday hoping to get back to winning ways and Marks remains happy with where his side sit.
“We’ve had a massively tough run of games, playing the likes of Holbeach, Spalding and Newport Pagnell,” said the Cogenhoe boss.
“We’re disappointed not to have got a win in the past five games but we’ve held our own and some teams just have bigger budgets than we do.
“We’ve tried to improve from last season and we’ve done that, so I’m more than happy. We’re just a couple of players off being a top-four side.”
Marks has targeted the trip to Yaxley as a game he expects his side to win and he says his players have got the appetite to get the three points this weekend.
“Yaxley have picked up a bit and the pitch will be awful, but I expect us to go there and get three points,” he said.
“The lads are hungry to get back to winning ways.”
The Cogenhoe squad has been bolstered by this week’s return of former Wellingborough Town and Woodford United midfielder Wes Emery.
And with Tom Liversedge having also headed back to Compton Park a couple of weeks ago, Marks has plenty of options at his disposal.
“Sedge and Wes are very good players and they give us good options,” said Marks.
“We’ve improved a lot during the last couple of seasons and a lot of players have gone on to higher levels.
“But it’s nice that when things aren’t working out for them they want to come back and play for us.”
Emery will be included in the squad for this weekend’s game, but Tom Fountain (knee) and Peri Wells (shoulder) are out.
Player-coach Mike Houghton says teenage talent Lewis Entwistle has added an extra dimension to the Long Buckby squad.
Entwistle, who is just 16 years old, came off the bench to score twice and help the Bucks salvage a 3-3 draw at Shepshed Dynamo last weekend.
The young striker is making a name for himself in the UCL Premier Division and his twin brother Harvey is also showing great potential.
Houghton played alongside Lewis in last weekend’s comeback draw and he was hugely impressed with what he saw, once again.
“It’s fantastic experience for him,” said the Bucks’ No.2. “He was unlucky not to start the game.
“He came on and gave us an extra dimension and that proved vital.
“The composure that both Lewis and Harvey show is great and they will definitely go a long way in the game.
UCL fixtures, Saturday, February 23
Premier Division: AFC Kempston v Long Buckby, Blackstones v Harborough, Desborough v Holbeach, Huntingdon v Spalding, Irchester v Sleaford, Newport Pagnell v Shepshed Dynamo, Peterborough Northern Star v Boston Town, Quorn v St Ives, Wellingborough Town v Deeping, Yaxley v Cogenhoe.
Division One: Bourne v AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Buckingham v Thrapston, Northampton Spencer v Potton, Olney v Burton Park Wanderers, ON Chenecks v Harrowby, Raunds v Bugbrooke, Sileby v Rushden & Higham, Whitworth v Rothwell Corinthians, Wootton Blue Cross v Eynesbury.
Reserve Knockout Cup, second round: Bugbrooke v Blackstones.
Reserve Division One: Cogenhoe v AFC Kempston, Harborough v Whitworth, Stewarts & Lloyds v Peterborough Northern Star, Thrapston v Desborough, Woodford United v Huntingdon.
Reserve Division Two: Burton Park Wanderers v Irchester, Eynesbury v ON Chenecks, Oadby v Yaxley.