Dean Thomas expects Kettering Town to be handed a “massive test” when they make the short trip to Northamptonshire rivals Daventry Town tomorrow (Wednesday).
The New Year’s Day clash looks to be the pick of the games in the Calor League Division One Central with the Poppies sitting in seventh place after extending their unbeaten run to 13 matches in competitions with a fine 2-0 win at Slough Town on Saturday.
At the same time, fifth-placed Daventry were claiming a 2-0 home success over Northwood – their 10th league victory in as many games at Communications Park this season.
Darran Foster’s team made all the early running in the league and already have a backlog of fixtures having reached the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history.
And, with such a formidable home record being coupled with the Poppies’ fine run of form, Kettering boss Thomas believes a bank holiday cracker is in store.
“It has the makings of being a very good game,” the Poppies manager said.
“It will certainly be a massive test for us, we will have to have everyone at the top of their game if we are to continue this run we are on.
“I have seen Daventry play and they work extremely hard for each other. It isn’t really about individuals with them, they are a very good unit.
“But we aren’t doing too badly ourselves at the moment and I would like to think they will be wary of us.
“We have put some pressure on those teams at the top with the run we have been on and I do believe we are becoming a real force in the division.”
Thomas is also hoping fan power will play a part in the first game of 2014 with Kettering expected to take a large following to the south of the county.
He added: “Everyone loves a local derby and this will have an extra edge because both teams are going well.
“I am sure our fans will travel in numbers like they always do and I am sure they will be right behind us.”
The Poppies will be without central defender Henry Eze who is now in Nigeria where he is due to get married.
But Thomas will have midfielder Chris Logan available again after he missed the win at Slough due to a one-match ban.
The Poppies have re-arranged their trip to Barton Rovers for Tuesday, January 21 while the home game with St Ives Town, which was postponed on Boxing Day will now be played at Latimer Park on Tuesday, February 4.
Both games will kick off at 7.45pm.
Find all the details from the New Year’s Day football on www.northantstelegraph.co.uk and more news in Thursday’s Northamptonshire Telegraph