Match Preview: Stalybridge Celtic (A)

The Pitmen make their return to the 6th tier of English football when Rob Smith’s team travel to Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday afternoon, confident that a successful pre-season, both on and off the pitch, can prove a platform on which to build after last season’s once-in-a-generation campaign.

Hednesford, three times play-off losers in 2010, 2011 and 2012, finally broke their duck with an astonishing run of form culminating in a heart-stopping victory against well-fancied AFC Fylde on penalties and then, with Keys Park heaving, a famous 2-1 victory against FC United of Manchester in front of a record crowd of 4412, thus securing promotion to add to victories in both the Staffordshire and Birmingham Senior Cups.

A season more about consolidation would suit most supporters, alongside watching the continued development of two hugely exciting young prospects in the form of Jamey Osborne and Elliott Durrell as they make the step up to The Skrill North.

Manager Rob Smith, when discussing his team’s chances this year, preached caution from The Pitmen faithful but admitted that it could also be an interesting ride.

‘My message to the supporters is simple really – enjoy the ride! There will be games where we are going to get our backsides kicked this season and it’s important that the fans stay behind the team when things are not going so well.

‘We are where we want to be in terms of fitness and having played nine games, are up to speed. The players have worked very hard and we can’t wait to play our first competitive game of the season on Saturday.’

Hednesford’s opponents on Saturday finished solidly in mid-table last season and could certainly be described as an established club at this level, having not played in a league below the 6th tier for over two decades.

While the Hednesford supporters look towards massive games ahead against the likes of local rivals Telford and fallen giants Stockport County, a solid start filled with the character in evidence so often last season, will undoubtedly suffice for Smith as, after finally securing promotion at the third attempt, the manager now leads The Pitmen into an exciting new era.

Pitmen Pre-season Form – WDWWWLWWW
Previous Result – Newtown 0 Hednesford Town 6 – Pre-season Friendly – Saturday 10th August 2013
Next Fixture – Leamington (H) – Skrill North – Tuesday 20th August 2013

Stalybridge Celtic Pre-season Form – LLLDWL
Previous Result – Stalybridge 1 FC United of Manchester 2 – Pre-season Friendly – Saturday 10th August 2013
Next Fixture – Colwyn Bay (A) – The Skrill North – Tuesday 20th August 2013

KO – 3.00pm
Address of Ground – Bower Fold, Mottram Rd, Stalybridge, Cheshire SK15 2RT

Travel Club Coach Departure Time – 11.00am
Price – £17 Adults, £14 Concessions

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