BASILDON United could move a step closer to ensuring they will be playing Isthmian North football next season when they welcome Romford to the Ho Ho Stadium tomorrow.

Paul Martin led Romford to safety on the final day of last term but the club’s future looks bleak as they currently prop up the standings.

However, new Bees boss John Sussex insists his side will not underestimate Romford and is full of admiration for the work Martin has done for the division’s bottom side.

“We are relishing the challenge,” said Sussex, who replaced Neil Blackburn in the Basildon hotseat last week.

“Paul Martin’s nickname is Magic and I have to say that is his nickname for a reason.

“He has a small budget, like us, and yet he manages to keep Romford in the division every season.

“They won last Saturday against Mildenhall Town and I know first hand that they are seeing this as their biggest game of the season.

“It’s a must-win game for them, whereas I would say that it is a must-not-lose game for us.

“They went on an incredible run to avoid relegation on the last day of last season and, having won last time out, they see this game as part of another similar run this time around.

“It’s a cup final for them but we will be going into the game looking to move a step closer to safety ourselves.

“I am confident in the players we have got and that we can win the game.”

An injury time winner resulted in Basildon falling to a 1-0 defeat against Felixstowe & Walton United.

But Sussex felt there reasons to be optimistic after his first encounter in charge.

“It was a positive start despite the defeat to Felixstowe & Walton United,” added Sussex.

“We will be judged on results and I appreciate that but we were well set up, the players listened to the gameplan and put it into action.

“It was a pleasing performance and we have to be realistic about what we can achieve.

“We had four players 18 or younger in our squad at Felixstowe and only three players had experienced Isthmian North football before this season.”

Eli Benoit became the first signing under the new regime as he made the move less than 24 hours before the defeat at Felixstowe.

And, although he is looking to bring in reinforcements, Sussex insists the days of having an ever-changing starting line-up are over.

“I have known Eli for five years,” confirmed Sussex.

“He was captain of Tilbury Reserves when I first knew him and he has gone onto play more than 150 games in the Isthmian League.

“Eli is 6’3” and strong in the air. He was outstanding on his debut at Felixstowe and Miles Powell, who is their joint top goalscorer, did not get a touch of the ball because Eli was so good.

“Hopefully he will continue to show that kind of form and I was very pleased to bring Eli to the club.

“I am looking to bring one player in but that is proving difficult.

“The days of making five or 10 changes to the team and bringing in 20 players for trials are over because that will not happen anymore.

“I want to develop the players that are already here.”