Smith Fully Aware Of Importance As Pitmen Embark On FA Cup Campaign …
Hednesford Town take the first step on the long road to Wembley as their FA Cup campaign begins on Saturday with a near eight hour round coach trip to north Norfolk, to face Kings Lynn Town in the second qualifying round.
Repeating last season’s roller coaster ride to the first round proper is a more realistic target for Rob Smith‘s men than walking out under the arch in May and the manager is under no illusions as to the romance and importance of success in the greatest cup competition in the world.
‘The FA Cup is massive for all involved. We know that financially it is important but, from a dressing room point of view, we only have to look at last season and point to the memories of Telford, West Auckland and Crawley, all games which will live with those who took part for a long time. We are desperate for another good run.’
Smith has vastly improved many aspects of the club since he took over in 2010, with Hednesford’s record in the FA Cup one of them, but the manager is aware that a long trip to a Kings Lynn outfit, currently lying 10th in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division, who started the season in good form and hammered Boston Town 7-0 in the previous round, is a classic example of a possible upset.
‘All you can do is prepare properly, which we have done. I have watched Kings Lynn myself and we have to make sure we approach the game with the right mindset or else we will be on the end of a bad result. The players are very focused and well aware of the challenge.
‘They are a very good team who play some excellent football and are doing very well in a strong league. Add onto that the extremely long journey; I’m sure many will view this as a ‘banana skin’ game for us so we must make sure we are right.’
Smith is also hoping a victory on Saturday can act as a catalyst to kick start Hednesford’s league campaign, with The Pitmen having been in inconsistent form so far this season, epitomised by the form of two hugely important players, Kris Taylor and Jamey Osborne.
‘It has been a patchy start but I am seeing big signs of improvement. The players who have been missing are getting fitter, the squad looks stronger and the spirit is very strong. I am confident that we can go on a run of games unbeaten now, hopefully starting with Saturday.
‘Both (Osborne and Taylor) were out of sorts on Saturday; I think Jamey in particular found the game very frustrating. They are key players and know they must up their games, it’s something we have talked about and the whole squad is aware that we must improve.’
Chris Westwood and Marvin Robinson will return to the squad whilst Paul Sullivan is unavailable for selection as The Pitmen look to reach the next round.