Hednesford Town boss Rob Smith has praised the fortitude of his squad ahead of Saturday’s tricky trip to AFC Fylde after watching a patched up first eleven record a second home win of the season against local rivals Solihull Moors on Bank Holiday Monday.
A home fixture against the Moors with the prolific Omar Bogle in attack was always going to be a difficult game, especially with the size of the Solihull side and Smith reserved special praise for both goal scorers Tom Peers and Francino Francis, but also stressed the whole squad had really pulled together when it mattered.
‘I cannot compliment the team enough for Monday’s performance. On the morning I only had seven confirmed fit players, many played through injury, so to play with such heart and quality was amazing. I could not have been more proud of them than I was on Monday.
‘I asked Francino to be a man mountain for me and he was, although I’m not sure what he was doing so far up the pitch! With regard to Tom, he has settled in well, knuckled down and worked hard with the rest of the team in these testing times. He thoroughly deserved his goal.’
The Pitmen make the journey up to Lancashire aware that Fylde will be another stern test of their commitment to the cause with Smith under no illusions as to the task in hand.
‘This will comfortably be our hardest game of the season; they are an excellent footballing side who are scoring goals for fun. We remain down to the bones but I am confident we can still make sure we are hard to beat.’
On an injury crisis which has seen several players pick up long term injuries through the course of July and August, Smith is aghast at the run of bad luck but assured all supporters that no-one is working harder to make sure the right players are brought in to deputise.
‘I have never had a situation like this for injuries and have never ever been so busy trying to get short term players in to give us a strong bench. I am still actively looking for players who can help us out in this horrendous period with injuries, so there may well be more names coming and going.’
The team news ahead of Saturday makes difficult reading for all involved, with Glenn Walker in plaster with a broken foot not expected back until November, Tom Thorley also in plaster with a broken wrist expected back in late September, Paul Sullivan hamstrung until mid-September, Steve Diggin still recovering from the ankle ligament injury picked up on the eve of the new season and not due back in training for another fortnight and Paul McCone also out of tomorrow’s game with an ankle injury.
James Hurst, so impressive early in pre-season, may make the squad for the trip tomorrow in a rare piece of good news, but once again the team spirit and commitment so masterfully fostered by Smith over his four year tenure will need to come to the fore once again.