THE countdown to Boxing Day’s big derby clashes has begun with Stamford, Blackstones and Deeping Rangers all boasting a good run of form.
Stones and Rangers meet at Lincoln Road on Monday while Stamford travel to Evo-Stik First Division South Leaders Grantham Town on Monday, having put four past Lincoln United last Saturday with their best display yet under the management of Tommy Brookbanks.
Brookbanks knows Grantham well from his time at Carlton and Hucknall and said: “It should be a great clash – a real ding-dong battle.
“We will go for three points. We always play to win. It’s the only way my teams know how to play.”
Fourth-placed Stamford, who have also been top of the league this season, have played New Mills and Ilkeston while they were the top sides, and while three points and local pride are at stake on Monday, Brookbanks added: “I still believe the lead will change several times.
“The league won’t be decided on Boxing Day. ”
Brookbanks has all his key players available but may be without Jake Gibson, who has been the subject of an approach from Worksop Town. Speaking during the week, the Stamford boss wanted the winger’s future decided one way or another before Christmas.
Across town at Lincoln Road, Blackstones are enjoying being in the lofty position of fifth in the United Counties League and will relish the visit of local rivals Deeping Rangers.
Several Stones players, as well as the management duo of Darren Jarvis and Michael Goode, either live in the Deeping area or have played for Rangers so pride is at stake.
Joint Stones boss Jarvis said: “We are really looking forward to the game. Every game is important but despite what everyone tries to say, this will have added edge.
“I think it will be a closely contested, tough game and I honestly believe that it could go either way.
“We have quite a few boys who come from the Deeping area. Our players are always extremely motivated but they will be extra fired up for this one. Hopefully there will be decent crowd.”
Over at Outgang Road, Rangers boss Tuncay Korkmaz was facing a dilemma over who should start at Blackstones on Monday.
His side picked up an impressive win in the UCL League Cup at long Buckby last weekend but with players cup-tied, Matt Simpson and David Burton-Jones made up an impressive make-shift centre-back partnership.
“Everybody will be available, which will give me a selection headache,” said the Rangers boss. “We do not treat cup or league or derby games any different. The expectations are always the same and we will give it our best shot.”
The Blackstones-Deeping game kicks off at 3pm at Lincoln Road, and Stamford’s clash at Grantham also starts at 3pm.