The alleged curse of the Manager of the Month award will be tested to the full on Saturday as Rob Smith and his in-form Hednesford Town outfit reprise their Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division rivalry with title winners North Ferriby United in East Yorkshire.
The Villagers, currently in 6th place, pipped The Pitmen to the league championship on goal difference last season and are the last team to beat them in a competitive match, fully 6 months and 21 games ago but, despite an epic battle which went right to the wire, manager Smith admitted he saw the rivalry between the two teams as one full of respect.
‘I can’t wait for the game on Saturday but I have great admiration for the NFU management, they deserved to win the league and have started brilliantly again. I’m looking forward to sharing a pint with them afterwards.
There’s a very friendly but competitive rivalry and because of last season, we have a lot of respect for them off the pitch and our players have respect for their players. What they achieved last year was amazing. I can assure you though, on the pitch it will be as competitive as always and should also be a great game for the supporters.’
The last time Hednesford travelled to Grange Lane it was Ferriby who held a long unbeaten run, back in December 2012 and, with 10 minutes remaining, it looked like The Villagers would continue without defeat before a rousing comeback saw Elliott Durrell and Aaron Rey strike to win a pulsating game 3-2, but Smith believes the memories of that game won’t be needed to motivate his players.
‘That game was a memorable performance but to be honest, the only motivation is to keep doing what we are doing and rising to each challenge put in front of us. This is the toughest so far by a mile and a great challenge for us.’
Francino Francis is a major doubt for the game with a groin injury and, should the imperious defender be ruled out, Sam Barnes is likely to deputise alongside Ben Bailey with The Pitmen defence no doubt aware of Ferriby’s clinical strike force of Nathan Jarman, Anthony Wilson and Ryan Kendall.
Hednesford carry their own threat in attacking positions with Elliott Durrell, top scorer with 8 goals in 5 matches, and the lively front pairing of Neil Harvey and Wayne Riley looking to continue a positive start to the season.
Whatever happens between these two sides on Saturday, there will always be a mutual respect between the two rivals who pushed each other to such heights last season, and although a draw would probably suffice for The Pitmen, their travelling band of supporters, once again expected to number in the three figure mark, would love nothing more than another famous three points.
Hednesford Town Form – WWWDW
Previous Result – Hednesford Town 3 Barrow 1 – The Skrill North – Saturday 31st August 2013
Next Fixture – Vauxhall Motors (H) – The Skrill North – Saturday 14th September 2013
League Position – 1st
North Ferriby United Form – WWLDW
Previous Result – North Ferriby United 3 Boston United 0 – The Skrill North – Monday 26th August 2013
Next Fixture – Solihull Moors (A) – The Skrill North – Saturday 14th September 2013
League Position – 6th
KO – 3pm
Address of Ground – Grange Lane, Church Road, North Ferriby, East Yorkshire, HU14 3AB
Senior Citizens (65+) & Students (with valid ID): £5