Match Preview: Brackley Town (H)

Hednesford Town boss Rob Smith has given an insight into one of the reasons behind the Pitmen’s surge into the Vanarama Conference North play-off places and believes the fact that his squad are enjoying their football so much at the moment can only help as the big games keep coming.

After rightly praising the fantastic performance of his team in beating fellow play-off rivals Guiseley last Saturday in the local press this week, the manager says the atmosphere around the squad is very positive at the moment.

‘The atmosphere in the whole place has changed over the last few months, the players are buzzing in training and the application is superb. We are all really enjoying the ride again!’

A run of form which has seen the Pitmen lose just one game since November and win a further seven in the process of rising up to fourth place in the Vanarama Conference North is a superb indicator of the quality and commitment of the current squad, but Smith, aware that inconsistent Brackley will be a stern test after the Oxfordshire outfit recovered from a 5-0 drubbing by local rivals Oxford with an equally convincing 5-1 victory against Stalybridge Celtic in their last game out, is not resting on his laurels.

‘I think the 5-0 scoreline was a bit of a freak result. There is no doubting Brackley are an excellent team with some quality players.

‘The game will have a real edge to it as it is important for both teams. It’ll be nice for some of our lads, Marvin Robinson, Glenn Walker and Steve Diggin, to catch up with former team mates but that won’t matter during the 90 minutes.’

On Diggin and Walker, major summer signings from tomorrow’s opponents, Smith praised the impact both have had despite struggles with injuries at different times this season, and he also made it clear how good it will be to have Darren Campion and Jamey Osborne back in contention after suspension.

‘Both are terrific lads to have in the dressing room. Diggs has had a difficult season, he was really sharp pre-season but the injury he suffered really put him back. He is now finally looking back to his best again so we are hopeful he will have a good end to the season.

‘Glenn has been superb all campaign for us and even when asked to fill in at left back he has been outstanding. Having Osborne and Camps back is another massive plus for us as we are still a little low on numbers in the squad.’

One piece of bad news after Tuesday night’s gallant 1-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion was the news that central defender Paul McCone injured ligaments in his ankle and will be missing for two weeks but, as the manager was so keen to stress, the Pitmen go into tomorrow’s game riding a crest of a wave that could just carry them all the way to the play-offs come the end of April.

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