The visit of FC United of Manchester, perhaps more than any other game except Stafford Rangers and Chasetown, evokes a strong rivalry for Hednesford Town supporters, especially when the Red Rebels visit Keys Park, as two teams with a vocal following and hopes of a future in a higher league clash on Saturday.
The rivalry is added to by the fact that The Pitmen have never beaten the anti-Glazer club on five occasions and four of those previous meetings are littered with disappointment and frustration, none more so than the first meeting between the two sides when a stoppage-time equaliser broke the hearts of the Hednesford faithful in 2009.
Pitmen boss Rob Smith was keen to look on the positive side after Hednesford’s 5-4 victory against Burton Albion on Tuesday however, flagging up the encouraging performance in the away fixture this year and noting the importance of the game, regardless of history. “Last year they beat us very comfortably at Gigg Lane and we were lucky it was only 2-0. At home last season they also beat us fairly comfortably but fortunately in August we gave a good account of ourselves at their place and deservedly got a draw so I will concentrate on that.
It is just a massive fixture whenever you play FC United. They have superb support and it is always a big occasion for the players. The fact that both teams are high up in the league just adds to the occasion and I’m sure our fans and players will respond with another strong performance.”
Smith will have a full squad to choose from after Alex Melbourne served a one match suspension in midweek and will undoubtedly be looking for a victory to continue the pressure on North Ferriby United at the top.
FC United have had a relatively inconsistent season but currently lie seventh in the league just two places outside of the play-offs with games in hand on the teams above them. The Red Rebels have recorded two solid away victories against Blyth Spartans and Chorley in recent weeks and their squad will be rested after seeing their midweek fixture versus Worksop Town called off due to a frozen pitch on Wednesday night.
A bumper crowd is expected at Keys Park on Saturday and with so much at stake there will be a raucous atmosphere on the terraces as two of the biggest teams in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division lock horns both keen to continue their annual tilt at promotion.
Segregation Info: With a larger than usual crowd expected, FCUM supporters have been allocated the Heath Hayes End of ground & access to seating in Block E of the Main Stand. Hednesford supporters will have access to the rest of ground.
Pitmen Form – DWLWWW
Previous Result – Hednesford Town 5 Burton Albion 4 – Tuesday 4th December – Birmingham Senior Cup Second Round
Next Fixture – Frickley Athletic (A) – Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division – Saturday 15th December
League Position – 2nd
FC United of Manchester Form – WDLLWW
Previous Result – Blyth Spartans 1 FC United 2 – Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division – Saturday 1st December
Next Fixture – Kendal Town (H) – Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division – Tuesday 11th December
League Position – 7th
KO – 3pm
Address of Ground – Keys Park, Keys Park Road, Hednesford, Staffordshire, WS12 2DZ