Hednesford Town return to Skrill North action this Saturday, a week after their superb victory over local rivals AFC Telford United, with manager Rob Smith confident his squad can deal with any team visiting Keys Park looking to knock the club off their lofty perch.
The Pitmen have started their first season back at this level with an astonishing return of 22 points from an available 27. Hednesford have a 100% home record and also a superb opportunity to reach the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup next weekend, making them the team to beat at the moment, but Smith knows his players are fully aware of the test that brings.
‘We know we are there to be shot at and the players don’t need reminding of this. We try and see it as a challenge, everyone wants to beat us and my question to the players is: can we rise to that challenge?’
Last week’s victory against Telford, with such strength of feeling on both sides of the divide about the return of former players and management, felt like a real moment in the evolution of a squad who were by far the better team and Smith stressed how happy he was with the players for carrying out orders and performing to their potential.
‘Every single player worked their socks off and more pleasing than anything was the fact that they carried out the plan to the letter. A lot of preparation went into the Telford game and they were superb. We needed to play the game not the occasion and we did that.’
15th placed Gloucester City are the visitors on Saturday and, whilst hardly the glamour tie last weekend was, it is vitally important that Hednesford continue to accrue points to keep the early chasing pack at bay, with Smith in a privileged position knowing that he can trust his squad to face any test thrown at them.
‘The strength of my squad was proved on Saturday with the performance of Alex Melbourne. He has been patient and deserved his chance. He showed unbelievable energy levels and although Dave Macpherson was on the bench, he also gave us something no one else can. It’s great to be able to pick the right team for the right game and with Matt Regan now back in the frame in central defence it’s always a nice problem to have.’
Smith has a fully fit squad to choose from bar striker Wayne Riley who, according to the Club doctor, is probably two weeks away from full fitness after what was expected to be a seven week groin injury.
With West Auckland Town of the Northern Football League Division One awaiting in the the FA Cup Third Qualifying Round next weekend, another three points on Saturday will continue a start to the season few Pitmen supporters would have expected, but one many now believe can continue into the hard winter months.
Hednesford Town Form – WLWWWW
Previous Result – AFC Telford United 1 Hednesford Town 3 – FA Cup Second Qualifying Round – Saturday 28th September 2013
Next Fixture – West Auckland Town (H) – FA Cup Third Qualifying Round – Saturday 12th October 2013
League Position – 1st
Gloucester City Form – LDLLDW
Previous Result – Havant and Waterlooville 2 Gloucester City 3 – FA Cup Second Qualifying Round Replay – Tuesday 1st October 2013
Next Fixture – Yate Town (A) – FA Cup Third Qualifying Round – Saturday 12th October 2013
League Position – 15th
KO – 3pm
Address of Ground – Keys Park, Keys Park Road, Hednesford, Staffordshire, WS12 2DZ
Adult Main Stand: £12
Adult Terrace: £11
Concessions Main Stand: £7
Concessions Terrace: £6
Adult/1 Child* Terrace Ticket: £12
Adult/2 Children* Terrace Ticket: £13
Family** Terrace Ticket: £22
* Child under 16
** 2 Adults & 2 Children (under 16)
Car parking: £1
Match Programme: £2.50