Smith Hails Team Spirit As Pitmen Race Towards Play-offs …
Hednesford Town boss Rob Smith has signposted the main reason behind the incredible run of form which has lifted his unfancied Pitmen side to third place in the Vanarama Conference North after eight wins in ten matches ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Bradford Park Avenue.
In a turnaround of fortune between the two teams, Bradford, conquerors of The Pitmen almost three years ago in a 5-0 thrashing at the play-off semi final stage in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division, climbed out of the bottom three on Tuesday night with a 2-1 victory against Guiseley whereas Hednesford moved to third place with a victory against historic rivals North Ferriby United.
Smith believes that the incredible team spirit in his squad, which barely holds a candle to their rivals in terms of budget or size, has been the key in giving the Pitmen another fighting chance of promotion this campaign.
‘Team spirit has been so important. It has carried us a long way in the past and it is certainly the main factor now; we are a small unit in numbers but also a very tight one.’
Reflecting on Tuesday’s victory at North Ferriby, Smith used it as an example of the gulf in numbers in some squads across the league as the Villagers made several changes to their team in preparation for their FA Trophy Semi this weekend.
‘To be honest, it is very satisfying to find ourselves in the position we currently hold. It made me laugh that Ferriby could make so many changes to their team, bringing in players like Jarman and Kendall and other big names, whereas if we were in a similar situation we could make three changes tops!
‘90% of the teams in the league have bigger squads but we are not complaining, it works in our favour to be a tight unit.’
Smith expects a typically tough game against a Bradford side who may have had their struggles this season, but have won two of the last three and were widely tipped to be up challenging for promotion throughout the campaign.
‘Bradford are on a great run, they have a lot of players back and are a really good team. At the start of the season they would have been fancied by many, me included, to make the play-offs, but they have had issues with injuries and games being called off. I rate them highly and it always a difficult place to get a result.’
With both loan signings, Adam Thomas and Nick Rushton, from Stoke City and Wrexham respectively, putting in impressive displays against Ferriby and adding further credence to the belief that Hednesford’s strong core of senior players are complimented well by hungry temporary signings, another win at the Horsfall Stadium would cement Hednesford’s chances of a fifth successive play-off campaign with just nine games to go.