Match Preview: Harrogate Town (A)

Hednesford Town make the journey to the picturesque Yorkshire town of Harrogate for a vital Skrill North match tomorrow, with their outlook anything but rosy after a hugely difficult period both on and off the pitch.

Injury to Jamey Osborne, expected to keep him out until at least next weekend, the transfer of top scorer Elliott Durrell to Wrexham and the recall of Nathan Blissett from his loan by Kidderminster Harriers have all taken their toll on the Pitmen squad but the news, made public on Monday, of midfielder Kris Taylor’s struggle against testicular cancer, has put those troubles into real perspective.

Taylor, such an impressive passer of the ball and with a wand of a left foot, will be sorely missed by his team mates on both a personal and professional level as Rob Smith explained in midweek.

‘As you would expect, the squad have rallied round Kris. It has been a shock, of course, but he knows we are all right behind him and he will get over this. The whole football world has been superb and I personally thank everyone for their good wishes.’

While the news regarding the former Walsall and Manchester United player makes the thought of football pale into insignificance, there is still the small matter of a play-off campaign to secure for Hednesford and Smith knows his players will have to dig very deep in the run-in after a traumatic January.

‘No team can cope with the loss of four key players for different reasons in the space of two weeks. We will have to look at how we approach games but we know we are going to have to dig very deep over the next few weeks.

‘There is no way we can win this league with what has happened to the squad recently, in my opinion it’s Telford’s or Ferriby’s to lose, but we have a third of the season to go. If we concentrate on ourselves and try and win at least half of those games, we could achieve the goal of the play-offs. It seems everything is contriving against us at the moment but we will keep working hard.’

With Osborne definitely out and Neil Harvey also unable to play due to a recurring hip injury, the trip to the CNG Stadium is a game which, in Smith’s view, is one of, if not the most difficult games remaining for his team.

‘Harrogate have players not even getting in their 16 who would walk into most teams, so that tells you all you need to know. They are top of the form table for the last ten games and still have a good chance of making the play-offs. It is the hardest game on paper that we have left, leaving aside Boston away and with our current problems it could not be more difficult, but we know our spirit alone sometimes carries us through so we will go there and try and make it as difficult as possible for them.’

If Taylor’s scoring exploits against Altrincham, with the weight of such troubles on his mind, are at all indicative of the spirit in the Hednesford camp at the moment, which Pitmen supporter would bet against another famous away win to go along with superb victories this season at Solihull, Bradford, West Auckland, Altrincham and Telford?

Hednesford Town Form – LWWWWD
Previous Result – Hednesford Town 1-1 Altrincham – The Skrill North – Saturday 1st February 2014
Next Fixture – Solihull Moors (H) – The Skrill North – Saturday 15th February 2014
League Position – 2nd

Harrogate Town Form – LDWWDW
Previous Result – Harrogate Town 4-1 Ossett Albion – West Riding County Cup – Tuesday 28th January 2014
Next Fixture – Guiseley (H) – The Skrill North – Tuesday 11th February 2014
League Position – 8th

KO – 3pm
Address of Ground – CNG Stadium, Wetherby Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG2 7SA

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