Match Preview: AFC Fylde (H)

Smith Prepares Squad For Visit of Title Favourites …

After Hednesford’s superb run of form since Christmas, which has seen The Pitmen lose just one game in their last ten, Keys Park is set for the club’s biggest game of the season so far with second-placed AFC Fylde visiting as the Vanarama Conference North promotion battle heats up.

The Coasters are two points behind Barrow, albeit with two games in hand, after last week’s surprise defeat to Chorley and Hednesford manager Rob Smith is excited about tomorrow’s game, seeing it as an ideal opportunity for his team to judge how far they have come this campaign.

‘I’m really excited about tomorrow as it gives us chance to really gauge where we are against arguably the best team in the league.

‘Our other motivation is to keep putting in consistent performances, whoever the opposition. Whatever Fylde’s long term dream, what I will say is that they are far and away the best team we have faced this season, they are a quality team.’

The performances of the experienced members of the squad have been a key component in Hednesford’s run of 21 points from the last 10 games and last Saturday’s comprehensive victory over Colwyn Bay, despite the sending-off of captain Darren Campion, lifted The Pitmen to a season-high position of fourth.

Smith believes that the injection of youth, through playing the loan market well this year, (Stoke City midfielder Adam Thomas is the latest player to join this week), has complemented the experienced heads in the squad, with the manager pointing to the attitude of the young players while also supporting Campion despite his red card.

‘It is exciting for us to have these youngsters around the place as they bring real energy and desire. It suits us to bring another exciting youngster in whose attitude is top drawer and who will gain valuable experience from being with us.’

‘Camps will be banned for two games beginning next week. I did not hear what he said to the ref but in his report he has claimed foul language. We will just get on with it and the squad will cope. It’s unfortunate as he has really done well with his discipline over the last few seasons, he will come back as strong as ever I am sure.’

Jamey Osborne’s second game out through suspension apart, The Pitmen go into tomorrow’s vital game on as big a high as ever this season and have a clean bill of health throughout the squad: a victory would not only blow the title race wide open but further cement the hope that Hednesford’s star is on the rise again.

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