BRIAN Hughes thinks that his Cirencencester side having the hardest run-in of all their promotion race rivals in the Southern League Division One South and West works in their favour.

Merthyr’s slip-up at Taunton on Tuesday night means that the Welshmen lead Ciren only on goal difference with just three games remaining for both.

Merthyr take on Supermarine this Saturday, but then face lower mid-table sides Evesham and Thatcham, it’s those fixtures that still make Merthyr favourites for the title.

Ciren’s task is rather harder, mostly playing teams around them but Hughes says he prefers being able to prepare for a tough game rather than the unpredicatble challenge of a bottom of the table club.

“We’ve got Mangotsfield, Shortwood and Yate – the toughest run-in by far – but I would much prefer that than playing the bottom three,” Hughes said.

“Then I wouldn’t know what I would get performance-wise.

“If we can’t win the league I want to be second. There are medals for the runners-up, too – we got nothing for being promoted from the play-offs a few years ago – and for all the people in and around the team who have put so much in over the last nine months I would love if we had something to show for it.

“What I could do without is for Tiverton to win at Stratford on Thursday night and make it a three-horse race. I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder as well.

“It seems to be Merthyr’s turn to have a wobble but even so I feel we need to win our last three games. The key will be keeping my players relaxed.”

Elsewhere in the Southern League Premier Chippenham travel to Hitchin in the middle leg of a series that sees them play three games in five days.