Hednesford Town manager Rob Smith has taken time to reflect on the achievement of reaching his fourth successive play-off campaign after Easter Monday’s comprehensive 4-0 victory over Worcester City ensured that his team will battle it out for a scarcely-believable second straight promotion.
The Pitmen boss couldn’t hide his pride at the amount of hard work his squad have put in and he commended the efforts of a squad who started the season as rank outsiders, having only won promotion back to the Skrill North under 12 months ago.
‘The attitude of the squad has been superb, I set them a target of wins and they have surpassed that with a game to spare. It is what we have worked for all season and to finally achieve it, as you can imagine, made the dressing room a very happy one.
‘We have got every ounce out of all the players and they are a credit to me and to the Club.’
A run of seven wins in the last eight matches, alongside the blistering start to the season which saw the Pitmen lead the division just before Christmas, has meant Smith can now prepare for the long trip to Barrow on Saturday without the pressure of needing a result, although if permutations go their way, Hednesford could still finish third and secure a home second leg.
Smith however, looked to be erring on the side of caution in ensuring his key players are fit for the first leg of the semi-final on Wednesday 30th April, but he also believes that a Hednesford team free from expectations will be a very dangerous proposition for whoever they play.
‘Saturday is a difficult one because yes, we want to finish as high as possible but I also have an opportunity to rest key players so that must be the priority in my mind.
‘We won’t get carried away because the goal was to reach the play-offs. The supporters must also realise that anything more is a bonus. The problem for the other teams is that, unlike our rivals, we have no expectations and sometimes that can make a team very dangerous.’
As the testaments of previously vanquished play-off rivals, Leamington, Fylde and FC United of Manchester prove, The Pitmen and their supporters will know that the drama of the end of season shake up means anything can happen and, with a team so closely knit and seemingly able to play far greater than the sum of their parts, who knows where Smith and his players can end up.