Mark Harrington anticipates a stern test of Paulton Rovers’ promotion credentials at Lodge Road after labelling….
….Yate Town as the best side his team has faced in the Evo-Stik League Southern Division One South & West this season.
Paulton boss Harrington saw his side cruise into a three-goal lead in under an hour on the last occasion the two sides met back in October – but was left biting his fingernails in the final minutes as Yate staged a late comeback before narrowly losing the game 3-2.
Rob Cousins’ side were languishing in the relegation zone at the time before a mid-season revival prompted a steady climb to the fringes of the play-off places ahead of tomorrow’s clash.
“They certainly didn’t play like a team that were around the bottom of the league that night,” said Harrington. “I said after the game that they were the best side we’d face all season and I haven’t seen anything since to change my mind.
“It was only a matter of time before they moved out of trouble at the bottom and so it has proved. They are certainly the in-form team at the moment and have been for a couple of months now.”
Harrington is set to hand goalkeeper Scott Lewis a debut in place of the suspended Kyle Phillips and is also without long-serving defender Ollie Price, who has left Winterfield Road to join Yate.
“I’m obviously disappointed to lose a valued member of the squad,” said Harrington.
“Ollie has been a good servant to the club, but I was honest with him and told him that I couldn’t guarantee him a regular spot.
“He’s been great for me, but I couldn’t stand in his way because everybody wants to play every minute of every game on a Saturday.
“It’s a great move for Ollie at this stage of his career and we all wish him the very best of luck.”
Price is set to make his debut against his old club and Yate assistant-manager Michael Meaker said: “It’s a bit of a coup for us because there were a lot of other clubs interested in Ollie.
“I’ve played in the same team as him in the past and I know he is someone who gives 100 per cent in every game.
“He’s also versatile in that he can play in two or three positions and is a cracking lad on and off the pitch.”
Yate, meanwhile, would inch ever closer to the play-off places if they can avenge the defeat they suffered in the reverse fixture.
“It’s fair to say Paulton got out of jail a bit on that night,” said Meaker. “We had about fifty shots, but their goalkeeper was unbelievable. We’re looking forward to having another go at them.”
Cousins is still without suspended trio Tyrone Mings, Tom Warren and Mark Badman. Striker Tom Knighton has a minor knee problem, but should be fit.