Hednesford Town go into their crunch meeting with fellow promotion chasers Marine on Tuesday night in good stead following a solid performance against Trafford in the FA Trophy at the weekend, knowing a win will take them level on points with their Merseyside rivals in second place.
There are numerous back stories to what is the Club’s most important home game of the season so far with strikers Neil Harvey and Aaron Rey looking to play against their former team, captain and midfield linchpin Dave MacPherson out suspended and, in what will no doubt be a hugely emotional moment for the home fans, a minute applause will be held before the game following the shock death of Pitmen fanatic and revered Travel Club regular, Don Griffiths, who passed away suddenly last week.
Hednesford Town Club Secretary, Terry McMahon, has passed on his condolences on behalf of everyone at Keys Park to Don’s family and understands it will be an emotional night for the supporters.
‘Don was a very popular person at the Club and all who knew him have been deeply shocked by his unexpected passing. Hednesford Town Football Club would like to pass on the very best of wishes to the Griffiths family.’
On the pitch, Rob Smith is confident his squad can perform without the ever-reliable MacPherson in midfield against a Marine side who have recovered well from the departure of Rey and Harvey in the Summer.
‘Dave has been superb for us this season but we have players who can fill in while he serves his suspension. Marine have showed a real spirit this year and are excellent going forward with dangerous wide men providing threat down the flanks.’
Smith also stressed how pleased he was with the performance of his team in the FA Trophy on Saturday, a showing which secured a first clean sheet in twelve matches, while playing with a changed 4-5-1 formation.
‘We have been crying out for a clean sheet, it has just been trying to cut out individual mistakes but to get one against such a free scoring side is very pleasing. It’s important that a team can be flexible, and I think the squad gives us that. We will undoubtedly go 4-5-1 again in some games but it very much depends on the opposition.’
MacPherson’s suspension aside the Pitmen squad will be at full strength as they look to record a first win over Marine in four attempts at Keys Park. Their previous meeting in February last season was a 1-1 draw lit up by an outstanding long range goal by in form Elliott Durrell.
Two of the top sides in the division will no doubt both appreciate the importance of this fixture despite there being a little over a quarter of the season gone and, factoring in the Pitmen supporters’ wish to honour and remember one of their own, this match promises to be full of incident.
Pitmen Form – LLDWWW
Previous Result – Trafford 0 Hednesford Town 2 – Saturday 27th October
Next Fixture – Whitby (A) – Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division – Saturday 3rd October
League Position – 3rd
Marine Form – WLLLWW
Previous Result – Marine 2 Stocksbridge Park Steels 1 – Saturday 27th October – Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division
Next Fixture – Matlock Town (H) – Saturday 3rd November – Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division
League Position – 2nd
KO – 7.45pm
Address of Ground – Keys Park, Keys Park Road, Hednesford, Staffs, WS12 2DZ