MALDON and Tiptree assistant boss Jody Brown admits his side have a “major challenge” on their hands at the top of the Ryman League division one north table.

Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Cheshunt was compounded by wins for Heybridge Swifts and Thamesmead Town, while Grays Athletic shot up to second as a result of their 1-0 victory at Aveley on Monday.

It leaves Maldon top and still ten points clear of their nearest challengers, heading into Thursday night’s rearranged showdown at home to Brentwood.

But with the countdown on until the end of the season, Brown is expecting more twists and turns before the season finishes in April.

“We’ve got a major challenge on our hands,” said Brown, whose side beat Potters Bar 3-2 last Tuesday, thanks to a first-half double by Chris Bryan and a late third from Joe Gardner.

“Our lead is being chipped away and we know it’s going to be tough, but we always knew that was going to be the case.

“Of all the teams in the mix, I personally feel our biggest challenge is going to come from Grays.

“They’re second now and, crucially, they’ve got two games in hand on us.

“If they win them both, they’ll only be four points adrift and they’re a big club with big resources.

“They’re going to push us all the way.”

Maldon host Chatham on Saturday before heading to AFC Sudbury on Tuesday.