Hednesford Town will be looking to ease last weekend’s FA Cup disappointment by performing with equal amounts of desire, commitment and character in another cup competition, one which may not have quite so much romance but is another, far more attainable chance, of reaching the hallowed turf of Wembley.
The Pitmen famously lifted the FA Trophy at Villa Park in 2004 while the new national stadium was being constructed and their record in cup competitions over the past 12 months suggests they could be dark horses to go far.
A tricky home tie against Workington AFC stands in their way of progression to the First Round Proper and manager Rob Smith is keen to see his team, such proud performers against League One Crawley Town last Saturday, bounce back from only their 5th defeat since the turn of the year.
‘The main thing for me is that we have lost a game and we need to bounce back quickly after Saturday. The fact it is a big Trophy game will help in focusing the players minds.
‘As always the atmosphere has been very good and the lads have been lively in training. They enjoyed the whole Crawley experience and now look forward to another game.’
The Pitmen and The Reds have already faced each other once this season, with a 2nd half Ben Bailey equaliser in Cumbria ensuring honours finished even at 2-2, after Hednesford had travelled over 500 miles in the space of four days due to their unbelievable FA Cup replay against West Auckland, so Smith is well aware that this game will be far from easy.
‘I’m expecting what you always get from Workington, a battle. We only drew at their place a few weeks ago and their result at Solihull last week shows us how hard it will be but we are desperate to progress.’
Smith has a full squad to choose from, but will of course treat Nathan Woolfe’s situation with patience and respect after his father tragically passed away before the recent home game versus Colwyn Bay.
The manager also hopes John Disney, such a top performer at right back since his own father died suddenly last season, can act as one of many support mechanisms available to the fan-favourite left winger.
‘I think Nathan will lean on John a bit, having been through the same situation. That being said, everyone handles something like this differently, and we will be very patient with him.’
Young striker Charlie Anagho-Ntamark has been loaned out to Sutton Coldfield Town for a month to get some minutes on the pitch and, while Smith is acutely aware that, barring Elliott Durrell’s scintillating form of 20 goals in 18 matches, his other strikers have struggled to hit the back of the net, the manager has confidence in his forward line.
‘It is a concern, the strikers need to start scoring. The simple answer is that if they don’t I will look to rectify this by bringing others in. However, at the moment, they are all playing well but just need to convert the chances more, so there is no panic on my front.’
The Pitmen, with a superb seven wins from seven League games at Keys Park so far this season, look favourites on paper tomorrow afternoon but their experiences in the FA Cup this season should serve as notice, to both the players and the supporters, that shock results can happen just as easily in the FA Trophy and Smith’s men will have to be at their best to ensure Workington don’t spring a surprise.
Hednesford Town Form – WDWWWL
Previous Result – Hednesford Town 1-2 Crawley Town – FA Cup First Round – Saturday 9th November 2013
Next Fixture – Brackley Town (A) – The Skrill North – Saturday 23rd November 2013
League Position – 1st
Workington AFC Form – WDLLWD
Previous Result – Solihull Moors 1-1 Workington AFC – The Skrill North – Saturday 9th November 2013
Next Fixture – Harrogate Town (H) – The Skrill North – Saturday 23rd November 2013
League Position – 20th
KO – 3pm
Address of Ground – Keys Park, Keys Park Road, Hednesford, Staffs, WS12 2DZ
Prices are as follows, across all areas of the ground:
Adults – £12
Concessions – £7
U16 (with an Adult) – £3
Please note: Our usual family offers are not available for FA Trophy matches.