Hayling boss Steve Poulton believes tonight’s clash with Laverstock & Ford can be the defining game of their season (7.45pm).
The Humbugs, who sit second from bottom in the Wessex League premier division, are three points ahead of tonight’s opponents, having played a game more.
And Poulton feels a victory in Wiltshire can give his men vital breathing space, while putting pressure on local rivals Horndean, who sit directly above them.
‘If we win, it puts us six points above them at the bottom and they might find it difficult to come back from that,’ said Poulton.
‘We know that it will be a battle, though, and are expecting a physical test.
‘Our performances since Christmas have, on the whole, been encouraging and we go into the game in a positive frame of mind.
‘It is a high-pressure game for us but I am certain my players can handle it.’
Poulton is boosted by the return of two of his most experienced players for the crucial encounter.
Central defender Scott Thornton and central midfielder Jack Salter-Vaile return to the squad, giving a more solid look to the spine of the team.
‘They will provide more of a physical edge which we will need,’ said Poulton.
‘We missed them at the weekend when we lost 2-0 at Hamworthy.
‘I felt we were a little unlucky to lose and, for 75 minutes, showed that we can compete against the top-10 sides.
‘We are quietly confident that we can continue our improvement and collect the win that will put pressure on teams like Horndean.
‘A win would put us level with our local rivals and we still have to play them at our place.
‘Our fate remains in our own hands because we still have to play all the teams just above us.’
Moneyfields manager Miles Rutherford has vowed to shake his side up for their trip to Bournemouth Poppies – despite boasting a 12-game unbeaten run.
Rutherford was unhappy to see his side drop two points at home against Alresford Town on Saturday, describing it as the worst Moneyfields display for a long time.
‘There was no ambition, no desire and we were lucky to come away with a point,’ said Rutherford.
‘It is something I intend to put right at Bournemouth.’
Petersfield Town host Cowes Sports at Love Lane in Wessex division one.