Keys Park will be bursting to the rafters with the biggest attendance since its opening in 1995 expected for the visit of FC United of Manchester in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division Final on Saturday afternoon.
The Hednesford supporters’ nerves will still be somewhat frayed after the most dramatic of victories over AFC Fylde on Tuesday night as Dan Crane showed outstanding strength of character to save two penalties in the shoot out, after allowing a long ball by keeper Ben Hinchliffe to sail into the net in stoppage time.
Pitmen Boss Rob Smith praised not only the attitude of Crane but of his entire team to prevail after a truly epic game that will live long in the memory of all who witnessed it.
‘Most teams I have managed in the past have shown some degree of character in coming back from losing positions but the list would be endless with this team with how many times they have been put down and got back up fighting. They are a unique set of players.’
Keys Park’s record attendance of 3216, set in a FA Cup clash with York City in 1997, is likely to be smashed on Saturday for what is undoubtedly the biggest league game The Pitmen have played since their heady days in the then Vauxhall Conference over a decade ago.
Smith agrees that the match will be a huge occasion for both of sets of players, no doubt added to by the fact Hednesford and FC United have felt play off heartache five times between them in the last three seasons, but the manager was keen to also point out that, in a one off game, history has no bearing.
‘It is quite possibly the biggest fixture a lot of the players will have played in but we do have experience in our squad and again history, form, league positions, previous encounters all go out of the window. It’s down to who performs on the day.’
Should The Pitmen prevail on Saturday and win entry to the Conference North at the third attempt, the ghosts of Bradford Park Avenue, Salisbury City and Chippenham Town will be firmly laid to rest.
If the final has even half as much drama, passion and excitement as the Fylde semi final, the thousands of Pitmen supporters packed into Keys Park will undoubtedly have seen the most committed and exciting Hednesford Town team for many a year secure a historic promotion.
Pitmen Form – WWWWWW(aet+pens)
Previous Result – Hednesford Town 3 AFC Fylde 3 (Hednesford won 3-1 on penalties) – Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division Play-Off Semi Final – Tueday 7th May 2013
League Position – 2nd
FC United of Manchester Form – WWWWWW
Previous Result – FC United of Manchester 3 Witton Albion 1 – Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division Play-Off Semi Final – Tuesday 7th May 2013
League Position – 3rd
KO – 3pm, Saturday 11 May 2013
Address of Ground – Keys Park, Keys Park Road, Hednesford, Staffs WS12 2DZ