The Pitmen make the journey east to Lincolnshire on Saturday as their promotion chasing campaign stops off at former Football League club, Boston United, who are themselves well in with a shout of the play-offs, currently just six points behind their visitors with a game in hand.
Hednesford bounced back from two defeats in succession last weekend with a victory against Histon which, with other results going their way, including Boston’s calamitous 4-0 defeat against Harrogate, cemented a third place spot, but manager Rob Smith delivered an impassioned plea to supporters after what he perceived as some negative reactions to the performance of young striker Nathan Blissett during that game and made it clear that he believes his squad should have the full support of all fans.
‘I find it amazing and very disheartening that any of our players come in for criticism with what they have achieved. I can tell anyone that this squad works as hard as any. They are not Premier League players earning outrageous amounts of money; they are down to earth lads who make mistakes. It does nothing but damage to criticise these lads as happened on Saturday, constructive criticism is different.
‘I would urge some sections of our fans to respect how far we have come and respect the level. It is a difficult league and the fact we are challenging at the top end is testament to every player that has worn the Hednesford Town shirt this season.’
Blissett, who scored a disallowed goal on Saturday with a towering header, was later substituted with an ankle injury and fellow striker Marvin Robinson, scorer of the vital second goal, picked up an injury but both should be fit enough to be considered, with captain Darren Campion sitting out the fixture through suspension.
Smith also discussed the likes of Wayne Riley, Dave Macpherson and Michael Lennon, who are challenging for consideration and also gave an update on the condition of Kris Taylor after a successful operation last week following his diagnosis with testicular cancer.
‘Wayne definitely added a desperately needed spark to our game when he came on but the next thing is for him to do it the same when starting games. Macca (Dave Macpherson) always gives us 100% and was a good option for us to see the game out after conceding Histon’s first goal.
‘Lenny is back and looking quite sharp, I am sure he will have some part to play before the season is out, we need as many options as possible for the run in but talking to Kris, if we see him back before the end of the season then that will be a bonus.’
Hednesford’s opponents on Saturday have hit patches of form sporadically this season, having a winless December and a much more consistent January, but two losses in a row against fellow play-off chasers Harrogate, where they were reduced to nine men after 15 minutes and ended the match with seven men, and Brackley, has curtailed The Pilgrims’ progress.
Smith, however, is aware of the threat Boston will pose and believes this is definitely one of the trickier away assignments for his team this season.
‘At home they are very good indeed so it will be as tough as it comes. A draw would be a good result, they are exceptional going forward, but we will set out to win as we know that if we do we can set a big gap between us and them.’
Those Pitmen supporters with long memories will recall fondly their last visit to Boston in October 2008 when a spectacular volley by Ross Dyer set up a 2-1 win. Should Hednesford mirror a similar result and performance this time round, a push to consolidate a play-off place could turn into an outside chance of the title with North Ferriby and Telford within touching distance at the top.
Hednesford Town Form – WWDLLW
Previous Result – Hednesford Town 2 Histon 1 – The Skrill North – Saturday 22nd February 2014
Next Fixture – Birmingham City (H) – Birmingham Senior Cup – Tuesday 4th March 2014
League Position – 3rd
Boston United Form – WDWWLL
Previous Result – Harrogate Town 4 Boston United 0 – The Skrill North – Saturday 22nd February 2014
Next Fixture – Workington (A) – The Skrill North – Saturday 8th March 2014
League Position – 5th
KO – 3pm
Address of Ground – The Jakemans Stadium, York Street, Boston, Lincolnshire, PE21 6JN