Match Preview: Nantwich Town (H)

The Pitmen, fresh from Tuesday’s encouraging and comfortable 3-0 victory against local rivals Stafford Rangers, welcome 13th placed Nantwich Town to Keys Park this Saturday, embarking on what will undoubtedly be a dramatic run-in to a season which could herald their first promotion since 2005.

Current assistant manager, Chris Brindley, was in charge during a campaign which saw The Pitmen scrape into the Play-Offs on the final day before overcoming Merthyr Tydfil on penalties and then Chippenham Town in the final to win promotion from the Southern Premier League.

This time round, fans, management and players alike are no doubt looking to repeat the feats of John Baldwin’s legendary team who last won a league title for Hednesford in 1994/95.

North Ferriby United currently stand in Rob Smith’s way of writing another famous chapter in Pitmen folklore, The Villagers are four points ahead albeit having played two more games, but following the enforced break in league action due to the snow, the manager is just pleased to be back in action.

‘I imagine we are the same as most teams, the players are just desperate to get back playing but the mood has remained very good in the camp and, having discussed our upcoming fixtures, we are fully focused on a big month ahead.’

Saturday’s opponents will encounter two players undoubtedly keen to make a positive impression with Dave MacPherson and Michael Lennon both moving from The Dabbers to Keys Park during the summer and Smith is aware how players can raise their games against their former employers.

‘I know I never enjoy former players turning out against me and I’m sure Lennon will be no different. I thought he had one of his best games for us against Nantwich earlier this year so he will no doubt be eager to impress again.’

Team news wise, Francino Francis will sit out the game leaving Sam Barnes or Sam Craven to deputise alongside Ben Bailey in central defence, and the strike force of Aaron Rey and Neil Harvey have both recovered from injuries that kept them out of Tuesday night’s clash with Stafford.

Fixtures against The Dabbers are usually feisty encounters, and coupled with Nantwich’s strong away form (the fourth best in the division), Saturday will be the first of 18 tests The Pitmen must look to pass if they are to evoke the ghosts of 1995 and win promotion as Champions.

Pitmen Form – WLWLWW
Previous Result – Hednesford Town 3 Stafford Rangers 0 – Staffordshire Senior Cup QF – Tuesday 29th January 2013
Next Fixture – Alvechurch (H) – Birmingham Senior Cup QF – Tuesday 5th February 2013
League Position – 2nd

Nantwich Town Form – WDLWLL
Previous Result – Nantwich Town 2 Tranmere Rovers 4 – Cheshire Senior Cup First Round – Tuesday 28th January 2013
Next Fixture – Whitby Town (H) – Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division – Saturday 9th February 2013
League Position – 13th

KO – 3pm
Address of Ground – Keys Park, Keys Park Road, Hednesford, Cannock, Staffs WS12 2DZ

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