Whittlesey ready for battle in bid to maintain promotion push

Whittlesey Athletic vs Newport Pagnell Town FA Vase 2021-22

Ricky Hailstone believes his Whittlesey Athletic players will be in for a battle against Peterborough North End as the Fenland side return to action after six weeks out. - Credit: Spencer Holl

Ricky Hailstone admits a tough battle awaits his Whittlesey Athletic players if they are to maintain their place in the promotion picture. 

Whittlesey will end six weeks without a game with a trip to Peterborough North End, who are gradually picking up form in the Eastern Counties League (ECL) First Division North, on Friday night. 

The city outfit have won both their league fixtures since Christmas, all at home, by an aggregate score of 8-1 as they bid to reach the play-offs. 

“They’re going to be full of confidence, so we’ll need to be at our best or we’ll get beat,” said Hailstone. 

“It will be about whether we can get ourselves in front and probably hang on for the last half-hour, or stay in the game and see what the last half-hour entails.  

“But I anticipate we’ll get tired before they do.” 

Whittlesey have not played since their FA Vase third round proper defeat to Newport Pagnell Town on December 11

But they currently sit in the top five places and with games in hand over teams above, Hailstone is optimistic they can return to the imperious form that led them towards the summit. 

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“The Vase run finished on a damp squib where we got battered by the better side, so we’ve got to pick ourselves up,” he said. 

“I think if we match what we’ve done in the first half of the season, we’ll finish in the play-offs without question.  

“We’ve got a strong squad but if we’re missing three or four, that soon changes.” 

Ricky Hailstone ahead of Whittlesey Athletic vs Newport Pagnell Town

Ricky Hailstone said Whittlesey Athletic must be at their best if they are to get a result at Peterborough North End this weekend. - Credit: Spencer Holl

Hailstone heads into the North End game at the Bee Arena, 7.45pm, without the injured Rikki Wilmer and Joe Moore-Papworth until at least the end of February. 

It is a chance to field fringe players in their place, despite Whittlesey not being at their strongest. 

“We don’t want to let it slip away; we need to try and get ourselves fit,” added Hailstone. 

“North End competed well against us until they got a player sent off; we wouldn’t have cruised to 2-0 had that player not been sent off.  

“We know we’ve got a battle on our hands to get anything out of the game.” 

*In the same division, FC Parson Drove visit Diss Town while in the ECL Premier Division, March Town welcome Ely City to the GER, both on Saturday at 3pm.