Hednesford Town boss Rob Smith takes his Pitmen side to Guiseley tomorrow afternoon frustrated at the raft of suspensions, player exits and injuries that have beset his squad in a difficult week at Keys Park.
The postponement of last week’s equally as important game at home to AFC Fylde means key midfielder Jamey Osborne is still suspended with captain, Darren Campion, also sitting out after seeing red at Colwyn Bay, along with injury doubt Chris Westwood also unlikely to take part at Nethermoor Park.
Jack Thomas, so impressive in midfield during January, has been recalled early by Mansfield Town from his loan stint and, with George McGee also returning to his parent club, Birmingham City, the Hednesford manager is left with a threadbare squad ahead of a game which sees The Pitmen face a major opponent in the race for the Vanarama Conference North play-offs.
‘With Campion out I lose my captain and one of the best full backs in the league: Osborne, arguably our best player, is also suspended and Thomas, who was our best player last month, leaving is a devastating blow.
‘McGee has gone back to Birmingham and Chris Westwood is out with a calf injury, so we are struggling to field a team. Westwood may have to sit on the bench but in reality he will not be fit to play a part.’
Smith’s struggles have been eased slightly by the recruitment of Lloyd Kerry on a month’s loan from Harrogate Town, news confirmed earlier today by the club, and Andy Todd, who has joined from AFC Telford United, but after the manager watched tomorrow’s opponents beat title favourites Fylde on Tuesday night, he is only too aware of the test his patched up squad face in Yorkshire.
‘Guiseley were excellent on Tuesday night, it was as good a display as I’ve seen of late, they are a very strong, experienced side who play great football. Going to Guiseley at any time is a daunting task but with the squad issues we have it makes it even harder.
‘After the superb victory at Colwyn Bay we thought we were in a relatively strong position but the last week has seen us decimated. With a full squad I would be very confident of getting something from the game but we know it’s an uphill task now.’
The Pitmen can take heart from fact that throughout this turbulent season they have regularly gone against the odds and recorded unlikely victories, no more so than during their last outing in North Wales, and, with just five points separating Tamworth in third and Hednesford in sixth, tomorrow’s game has the distinct feel of the proverbial promotion six-pointer.
The Travel Club coach leaves Keys Park at 9.30am with regular updates through the @Hednesford_Town Twitter feed and www.htfcsa.co.uk/forum keeping supporters right up to date with all the action from a huge game in the Vanarama Conference North play-off battle.
Guiseley AFC Form – WDWLLW
Previous Result – Guiseley AFC 3-1 AFC Fylde – Vanarama Conference North – Tuesday 10th February 2015
Next Fixture – Boston United (A) – Vanarama Conference North – Saturday 21st February 2015
Current League Position – 4th
Hednesford Town Form – WLWDWW
Previous Result – Colwyn Bay 0-3 Hednesford Town – Vanarama Conference North – Saturday 31st January 2015
Next Fixture – West Bromwich Albion (H) – Birmingham Senior Cup QF – Tuesday 17th February 2015
Current League Position – 6th