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Rivals ready to go head to head
Heybridge Swifts boss Mark Hawkes expects the usual high level of intensity in this afternoon's derby at home to neighbours Maldon and Tiptree.
The sides are meeting in an earlier-than-usual Ryman League division one north showdown at Scraley Road (kick-off 3pm).
The rivals normally do battle over Christmas and Easter, when there is more emphasis on league positions because both have more points on the board.
However, just because the first match has come so early in the season, Hawkes is expecting a typical blood-and-thunder encounter.
“I think it’ll be as intense as ever,” said the Swifts boss, who is also preparing for a match at Soham Town Rangers on Saturday.
“It’s a local derby, which we all look forward to, and there’s rivalry between both sets of players and supporters.
“Maldon will want to upset us and ruin our bright start to the season, just as we hoped to upset them when they were unbeaten and top of the table on Boxing Day.
“Nothing will be decided on Monday. Whatever happens, we won’t definitely be up, down or in the play-offs.
“But it’s always a big game to win and that’s why both sides will be determined to do well.”
Meanwhile, Maldon and Tiptree boss Terry Spillane believes neighbours Heybridge Swifts are this season’s “title favourites”.
Spillane said: “They’ve made some very good signings and managed to keep people like Luke Callander.
“That’s massive for them because he could easily play one or even two levels higher.
“Heybridge are really going for it this year.
“They’ve made some big statements and now they’ve got to fulfil them.
“We know what to expect on Monday.
“Last season’s games were both really close and we’ll be going there determined to give a good account of ourselves.”