The Pitmen welcome ninth-placed Nantwich Town to Keys Park on Saturday in a game which, more than any other big game of late, could prove a turning point or foot note to their season as Rob Smith’s side now play catch up with their rivals in the play-off race.
Last Saturday’s 5-1 defeat at the hands of Chorley and FC United of Manchester’s victory against Worksop Town meant Hednesford dropped out of the play-off places and now sit one point behind FC United and three points behind Chorley having played a game more than both teams.
Their goal difference is eleven worse than FC United and eight worse than Chorley so in effect another point can be added to the deficit.
The Red Rebels have an easier run in than all the other top six sides (barring Hednesford), playing their rivals only twice in the final six games, but the fact that The Pitmen, despite struggling for form, have four winnable home games, a derby against struggling Chasetown and an away game versus Northwich Victoria (who could conceivably be safely anchored in second place by April 14th) suggests five wins from six could be enough to sneak in at the death.
Manager Rob Smith was keen to stress that their is still a positive atmosphere in his camp despite last week’s result and is confident his team still harbours hope.
‘The bottom line is I still believe it is in our own hands, if we win all of our games I believe we will make the play offs, maybe even 5 out of 6. The lads know what is required and the attitude is very positive.
If we don’t win on Saturday though, I don’t think our challenge is over. There will be many twists and turns in the final weeks yet. Nantwich are a good young side and will certainly prove a tough test.’
Team news wise, striker Mark Beesley starts his suspension following his sending off against FC United but Michael Ordish has recovered from his recent ankle injury and will be included in the squad.
Hednesford’s rivals face games which, although all three would consider themselves favourites, could prove to be tricky affairs as Bradford travel to a Buxton side fighting for their lives (and with Chasetown) to avoid the drop and Chorley go to a Stocksbridge team only two points off the drop zone. FC United host another team deep in the relegation mire in the form of defensively pourous Mickleover Sports.
The last meeting between Nantwich and Hednesford proved to be one of the most dramatic games of the season as The Pitmen were outplayed in the first half and saw Darren Campion red-carded for violent conduct before the break. An imperious header from Evo-Stik Facebook Player of the Year Cheyenne Dunkley levelled proceedings before Jamey Osborne received a second yellow. Hednesford sensationally took the lead with nine men through a scrambled Dunkley goal before Nantwich equalised in the last ten minutes.
Whether the nerves of supporters at Keys Park could take such drama in such an important game is open to debate but, one thing is for sure, a solid victory to get their play-off push back on track would be just what the doctor ordered.
Pitmen Form – DDWLWL
Previous Result – Chorley 5 Hednesford Town 1 – Sat 24th March
Next Fixture – Kendal Town (H) Sat 7th April 3pm KO
League Position – 6th
Nantwich Town Form – WDLLWW
Previous Result – Nantwich Town 4 Rushall Olympic 1 – Sat 24th March
Next Fixture – Frickley Athletic (H) Sat 7th April
League Position – 9th
KO – 3pm
Address of Ground – Keys Park, Keys Park Road, Hednesford, WS12 5DW
Adult (Terraced): £9.00
Adult (Main Stand): £10.00
Child/OAP (Terraced): £5.00
Child/OAP (Main Stand): £6.00
Family Prices (Terraced):
Adult + Child (U16): £10
Adult + 2 Children: £12
2 Adults + 2 Children: £18