KARL Marginson is predicting a thrilling finish to the UniBond first division north title race as his side gear up for Rossendale United's visit to Gigg Lane tonight (7.45pm).
Leaders Curzon Ashton suffered their first league defeat of the season on Monday night, falling to a late goal at home to Bradford Park Avenue, who moved to within three points of the top in second place.
FC lie third after losing at Clitheroe but victory over Rossendale, who were beaten on their own pitch in August, would take them level with Park Avenue and a three-goal margin would see them reclaim second place.
With only one automatic promotion spot, and another decided by the next four teams playing off, there is little margin for error.
"It could be a really tight, thrilling finish to the season," predicted Marginson. "We have lost four games, and can't afford many more if we are going to be thereabouts.
"Whoever puts a really good run together will get that top spot and I feel we have a squad capable of that, especially when we start getting players like Dave Chadwick, Stuart Rudd and Josh Howard fit again and once Peter Thomson has a few more games under his belt."
One player back in the fold is popular right-back Matty Taylor.
He will step in to help shore up a defence which received some criticism from Marginson after the Clitheroe defeat while Dave Brown is likely to make way for Colin Bell.
"Matty is the best full-back in this division as far as I am concerned and it is great to have him back," says Marginson.
"Colin gets another chance because he played two games, and we kept two clean sheets, so he was a little unlucky to lose his place."
Rudd, last season's leading scorer who has only managed four appearances this term, has been diagnosed with a partial tear of his posterior cruciate ligament and could be back playing after six weeks of rehabilitation.