HARWICH and Parkeston manager Kieron Shelley is predicting a “ding-dong battle” when his side make the short trip to Little Oakley on Boxing Day.

The rivals are set to meet in a Thurlow Nunn League first division south derby at the Memorial Ground (kick-off 11am).

The Shrimpers are flying high after a stunning run of six straight victories – a sequence they will hope to extend at leaders White Ensign on Saturday.

And with half an eye already focused on Boxing Day, Shelley is expecting a special occasion and looking forward to pitting himself against Oakley counterpart Matt Carmichael.

“I’ve got so much time and respect for Matt,” he said.

“He knows his stuff and it’s no surprise to me that, as a club, they’re turning corners very quickly.

“Sean (Tynan) had done a brilliant job before him but sometimes you need a different voice in the dressing room and that’s what I think they’re benefitting from at the moment.

“It’s all set for a ding-dong battle but one that will be played in the right spirit – positive, with fire in bellies but with hands stretched out afterwards, ready to have a drink together.

“There’s huge mutual respect between the camps and the players all know each other, either through football, as former school mates or work colleagues.

“Both teams will dearly want to win but regardless of the result, both are flying high with lots to look forward to in the new year.

“One result won’t change that.”

Harwich, fifth in the table, had no game last weekend.

Their six-game winning streak has seen them plunder 21 goals and the most recent success was an eye-catching victory at second-placed Hashtag United.

“We’ve got to keep doing the right things, as we did that afternoon,” added Shelley, whose side have not lost since October 13.

“That was such a big win for us and there’s no reason why we can’t keep that momentum going over Christmas.

“We’ve got a good bunch of players and they’re fully focused, with no plans to take their foot off the gas.

“There are some big points to be won – a massive nine points that could really put us in the mix at the top of the table.

“We’re going into these matches as prepared as possible and hopefully now the boys will deliver.

“We feel lucky to have had a couple of free weekends this month because it means our batteries are recharged ahead of a really big ten days.

“Maximum points has to be the target.

“Whether it happens or not remains to be seen but there’s no point beating the likes of Hashtag and, potentially, White Ensign but then losing to Oakley and Wivenhoe (who Harwich host next Saturday).”

Shelley had special praise for three of his trusted lieutenants, as well as assistant boss Mike Wallace.

“Shaun Kioussis has been absolutely superb, doing lots of really important work in front of the defence,” said the former Clacton boss.

“Ryan Heath has also been outstanding, chipping in with goals, while Joe Knight was immense and deservedly named man-of-the-match at Hashtag.

“These boys are making the team tick and I honestly can’t pinpoint a single negative in the dressing room at the moment.

“As for Mike, he’s such a genuine and kind-hearted guy – an absolute pleasure to work with and have as my right-hand man.

“He does so much behind the scenes and makes things happen.

"The club are lucky to have him.”