HALSTEAD TOWN skipper Lewis Cunliffe says they can make a big statement against the Thurlow Nunn division one leaders today.

After two weeks without a game, the Humbugs return to action against Whitton United at Rosemary Lane.

Mark Benterman’s side are looking to recapture the form that had put them among this season’s promotion favourites.

But they head into today’s game on the back of three defeats, which means they have slipped to sixth in the table.

Town do have up to three games in hand on the sides above them, though, and are only nine points behind the leaders.

So Halstead know a return to winning ways will help their quest to make up ground on Whitton.

Cunliffe said: “It’s a massive game, because we want to catch them up.

“We want the three points to help that but also because it will send out a big message to the rest of the league that we are ready to push on again.

“As a player you tend to look at the results of teams around you and I know that other people will have been looking at us.

“They’ll see that we’ve lost three in a row, but a good result today will show what we are all about. “It will make them sit up and notice us again.”

Elsewhere in division one, BRAINTREE TOWN RESERVES are away to Dereham Town Reserves.

STANWAY ROVERS are the only one of our premier division sides at home today, as they welcome high-flying Gorleston to the Hawthorns.

FA Vase heroes BRIGHTLINGSEA REGENT visit basement boys Woodbridge. Defensive linchpin Kevin Hughes is set to miss out, having been touch-and-go for last weekend’s Vase win against Bodmin.

“Kev was in agony afterwards,” said Regent boss James Webster. “He could barely walk the day after or get out of bed.

“I don’t think he’ll figure much between now and the next round, but hopefully we can get him patched up for that.

“He’s such an important player for us, not just in terms of what he does defensively but also in terms of organising and leading the team.”

Josh Gould has a bruised foot and Jake Holman a slight hamstring strain.

FC CLACTON visit fellow strugglers Diss Town – two places and four points above them – while WIVENHOE TOWN head to Felixstowe & Walton United.