Pitmen Supporters ‘Vital’ As Smith Prepares For Gainsborough Opener ..
Hednesford Town boss Rob Smith believes the settled and encouraging pre-season enjoyed by his squad means the players are ready for tomorrow’s opening game against Gainsborough with the manager once again citing the supporters as a vital part of their quest to defy the big spenders and consolidate in the Vanarama Conference North.
Smith’s transfer business was completed fairly quickly with the likes of Steve Diggin and Glenn Walker the headline acquisitions and positive performances against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Kidderminster Harriers and Burton Albion have given those supporters about whom Smith is so complimentary, a reason for optimism.
‘I’m fairly pleased in terms of player recruitment; I think we have done some excellent business. The aim of pre-season is to be as ready as possible for August and, bar the injury to James Hurst, I think we are at that level.
‘I really hope the bond between this set of players and supporters will continue, the fans are so vital to us and I can assure everyone that we will work as hard as ever to be competitive.
At the same time I also warn everyone once again that this is only our second season at this level and we cannot, and will not, match some of the crazy money that teams are throwing about, so we must be realistic in our targets. In my opinion the league is the strongest it has been since its inception a decade ago.’
As the Pitmen faithful will remember from last season, a good start was so important for the club as a 4-0 rout of Stalybridge Celtic saw ‘positiveness’ course through the veins of the players and it laid the foundations for a season well beyond the expectations of even the most optimistic supporter.
Smith was again cautious in his words but, as his record of almost unbridled league success in the last three seasons compared to any manager in the whole of the country, let alone non-league shows, his team will always aim as high as possible.
‘Make no mistake, a trip to Gainsborough is a very tough opener. It’s always nice to get off to a good start so it is very important to us to get points on the board quickly as this year every point is going to be hard to come by.
‘We will have our own dressing room targets which will remain just that, dressing room only, but mainly we just want to continue to establish ourselves as a Conference North outfit.’
The next question is, of course, how Smith and his long-standing managerial team face the challenge of a league that, whilst without the powerhouses that would have been Chester after their last minute reprieve from relegation, is full of teams reportedly spending big to win promotion to the promised land of the Vanarama Conference Premier.
The manager, having won 60% of his league games with The Pitmen since taking over in September 2010, signposted the strength of his midfield options but also suggested the onus is on his strike force to make the necessary waves this season.
‘Midfield is an area where we have an abundance of talent, it gives us great options. James Hurst, when he returns from injury, Alex Melbourne’s running in the middle with Osborne, Walker, Taylor and Thorley all show we are strong in that area.
‘We need to score more goals though and all of the strikers need to chip in, we cannot leave it to just one or two. If the strikers we have don’t deliver then I will have no alternative but to look elsewhere but it is always an area where quality strikers are very rarely available during the season.’
As always, under Smith’s leadership, The Pitmen will ensure the supporters who have had such a hand in the success of club in the past three seasons can make the first of many away trips tomorrow in positive and optimistic mood as Hednesford embark on another year no doubt full of drama, incident and excitement.