HEYBRIDGE Swifts are bracing themselves for a crucial run of fixtures – and hoping they can fend off their play-off rivals.

The Scraley Road side are fourth in Ryman One North – a point behind second-placed Grays Athletic and Thamesmead and 11 behind leaders Maldon and Tiptree – after Saturday’s 3-0 win against Romford.

It means they are still handily placed for a crack at promotion this season.

But with key games coming up against their fellow high-fliers, boss Mark Hawkes is preparing for a crucial few weeks.

That sequence starts with a trip to sixth-placed Soham Town Rangers on Saturday.

“We’ve got some difficult games coming up and we’ve got to play all the top nine again, apart from Thamesmead and Witham,” said Hawkes.

“Hopefully we can make more progress, at the same time fending off some of the teams below us like Soham, Aveley, Potters Bar and Tilbury.

“Getting maximum points at the weekend would be a perfect way to start and do us the power of good."

Meanwhile, Hawkes confirmed that two players have left Scraley Road.

Hussein Isa has been released as he is unable to commit to training, due to his work commitments at Queens Park Rangers.

Shane Stamp has also moved on to pastures new.

Swifts are at home to Needham Market on Tuesday.