Hednesford Town boss Rob Smith has reacted with typical bullishness as he declared his team are more than ready for a ‘horrendous’ run of fixtures in January that could make or break The Pitmen’s Evo-Stik Premier Division title challenge.
The Keys Park outfit, fresh from their derby day victory against Stafford Rangers, face six league matches in January, all against top ten clubs, with Bradford Park Avenue at home on Saturday before travelling to Nantwich, Chester, Marine and FC United and then finishing the month with a mouthwatering home game against second placed Northwich Victoria on Saturday January 28th.
‘We have to approach this month as an exciting challenge, not something daunting or to fear. On our day we are totally capable of coming away from all of those games with something, and that’s what we intend to do.’
After losing at home to Chasetown on Boxing Day Smith admits his squad were low but cites an honest training ground meeting before the New Year as a reason for the confidence in his squad going into this tricky run of games.
‘We had a good meeting at training on the Thursday after Boxing Day and set certain targets for ourselves that will stay in the dressing room. We regrouped and reanalyzed things; the whole squad wanted to bounce back quickly, despite the difficult games on paper they have all got to be played so bring it on.’
The Pitmen have lost only five games in twenty-four and Smith is proud of the supportive Hednesford fans who are renowned as one of the most staunch and numerous followings in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division.
‘The fans have been absolutely fantastic, especially against Stafford and Chasetown. The players all remarked on it and there was a real togetherness between fans and players. It just shows all of the hard work done on and off the pitch is helping massively.’
Ben Bailey, fresh from his Supporters Association player of the month award for December, will be looking to build on his imperious defensive display against Stafford and Smith was keen to preach consistency for the local defender.
‘I was very impressed with Ben, he has knuckled down but must find consistency. Campion has been superb all year too, and has been a real character which I like in my side and Dunkley and Monteiro were superb.’
The Pitmen begin their run of fixtures with sixth place Bradford visiting Keys Park, 3pm KO, on Saturday before to Rushall in The Doodson Cup next Tuesday and Nantwich Town the following Saturday.