Hednesford Town have a golden opportunity to make the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round for the first time since 2005 as they welcome Buxton to Keys Park on Saturday in what is the biggest game of their season so far.
The Pitmen have a glorious tradition in the Cup from the mid-Nineties but a victory tomorrow would give the team a great chance of drawing, among others, a local Conference club such as Kidderminster, Tamworth or Telford in the next round.
Rob Smith is under no illusions as to the magic of the FA Cup and has some pedigree of his own, guiding Telford to the First Round Proper two years in succession, and the Hednesford manager fully understands how much the famous old competition means to the supporters.
‘The players and the staff are every bit as excited as the supporters, its an important competition that I know means a lot to the fans.
With Telford we drew with Southend at home in the First Round. The place was rocking when we came from 1-0 down to go 2-1 up. They scored a deflected goal in the 94th minute and won the replay, but that home game was the best atmosphere I have ever been involved in and I’m sure Keys Park will be a lively place to be on Saturday.’
The Pitmen will be without left-back Darren Campion after he injured ankle medial ligaments in Tuesday’s 5-4 victory over Tividale and Sean O’Connor is still struggling with a persistent back problem.
Campion was showing very positive signs of returning to the rip-roaring form of two seasons ago and his absence, coupled with Buxton’s recent run will cause a headache for Smith and his squad.
‘Buxton are an excellent side in a rich vein of form. They have many assets but their main one will be their strength from dead ball situations, they are a big side and will pose a threat from long throws, corners and free kicks.’
The Bucks have scored thirteen goals in their previous three games, having beaten Lincoln United, Stamford and Ashton United, 4-0, 3-1 and 6-1 respectively, but prior to that were handed a thrashing by AFC Fylde 5-0 so The Pitmen will be hoping that their inconsistency bites again on Saturday.
In terms of head to head between both sides, Hednesford have emerged the victors in four straight games versus Buxton with their most recent meeting in last November when a Campion volley and two goals from Gary Hay secured a 3-1 away win. Their last meeting at Keys Park came at the start of last season when a late Cheyenne Dunkley goal won an exciting match 3-2 for The Pitmen.
An expectant atmosphere will greet Rob Smith’s side on Saturday and they will know that, as chances go to continue their FA Cup adventure, a home draw against a team in their own league is one they should really grab with both hands.
Pitmen Form – WLWWWW
Previous Result – Hednesford Town 5 Tividale 4 – Tuesday 2nd October – Birmingham Senior Cup Round 1
Next Fixture – Matlock Town (A) Tuesday 9th October 7.45pm KO
League Position – 3rd
Buxton Form – LWLWWW
Previous Result – Lincoln United 1 Buxton 4 – Saturday 29th September 2012 – FA Trophy First Round Qualifying
Next Fixture – Ilkeston (A) – Evo-Stik Southern Premier Division
League Position – 14th
KO – 3pm
Address of Ground – Keys Park, Keys Park Road, Hednesford, WS12 2DZ