It feels like an age since we’ve seen the lads kick a ball in a competitive fixture but we’re finally back in action tonight as we visit Wetherby Road for a third time to face Harrogate Town in a league fixture for the first time, with them having made the historic step up from the non-league ranks last summer.
Speaking ahead of the game, assistant boss Gav Skelton said: “They’re in good form. We’re really looking forward to the game. and I’m sure they are because their game was off on Saturday as well.
“They’ve had some good results of late, we’ve obviously done our homework on them and they’re extremely well organised and they work hard. They had success last year which they’ve been able to carry on and they’ve got some really good players.
“They’re very competitive and we know it will be a real challenge, but it’s a game we’re really looking forward to. They’re very committed and really difficult to play against. They win a lot of second balls in the middle of the pitch and really test you. We’ll be ready for that and hopefully we can take our game to them.”
“We want to go there and perform, that’s important to us, and we want to get a result,” he continued. “We’ve had this period of inactivity so we want to get back to it in a good way, so we’ve prepared well and we’re looking forward to being out there again.
“We’ve done our research on Harrogate, we’ve seen them play quite a bit. They’re full of energy and that’s something we have to match and ultimately do better at than they do. They have had games off but you do still get a feel for them.
“They’ll be the same with us. They’ll have seen the footage of our games and they’ll prepare for that. We know we’ll have to be up for it and meet it head on. They look to win those second balls and produce quality in the final third, so it’ll be a tough game.
“The manager has been there a long time, Paul Thirlwell has been there a long time, so they know what they want and expect. Hopefully the work we’ve done will mean that we’re ready come kick off tonight.”
And there’s no doubt that action-starved fans will be tuning in on iFollow to get their football fix as they support the lads from afar.
“We feel the same frustration, we’re no different than they are,” he told us. “We’re desperate to be out there and playing games and hopefully the reward for the fans will be that they’ll see a good performance when they tune in.
“When you speak to the family, or people who you bump into when you’re out on walks, you can tell everyone is missing it. Our games give people something to look forward to, especially at the moment when there isn’t too much else going on, and knowing they’re cheering us on adds an intensity to it, which is great.
“We have loads of games coming up and if everyone is still looking forward to each and every one, it means we’re doing well.”
With two games a week every week between now and the last week of the season, we wondered if the method of planning for such a run was anything he’d ever experienced before.
“I just think it’s really exciting,” he insisted. “Some of the players might feel it will be hard work but we have got a competitive squad.
“That means if people aren’t performing to their maximum we’ll have the capability to change them, depending on injuries and suspensions. I said earlier, we can’t moan that we haven’t had games only to then start moaning when we have.
“It’s two games a week, so be it, I think we should look forward to it and get what we can out of it. The more games the better for me, especially if we can build momentum. If we’re picking up points it builds positivity and suddenly all of those games feel easier.
“I personally feel this is a good thing. I have experienced it before where the weather has caused a build-up of games and you can look for excuses, or whatever, but there are no excuses from us. I’m just looking forward to it.
“You have to plan differently anyway when you have midweek games, as we had before Christmas, so that’s nothing new. You manage the schedule, you put your plans in place and you know when the games are coming, so you train round that.
“We have a good squad, it’s very competitive, so if we do need to change people for whatever reason there’s always somebody there to step up. We’re really excited that we have a lot of games coming and we just want to get on with it. Like I say, hopefully we’ll build some momentum into it and that’ll make the games even more enjoyable.”
“With a bit of luck we won’t have any more postponements and we can just crack on,” he added. “But we have to accept that you never know what’s round the corner.
“The last 12 months have shown us that you can’t say anything for definite, and if something does come up you just deal with it. There are a lot bigger things going on in the world than postponed football matches.
“We’re disappointed when it happens but we adapt, we accept that it’s the same for both teams and we look ahead to what we can control. We want to play games, build momentum and take whatever comes.
“We now have 23 chances to win games and 23 chances to get a points total we feel will be competitive in this league.”
Part of the excitement for the supporters is looking at the league table and mapping out how things might be, almost as every goal is scored.
“I’m not too bad with that,” he revealed. “I used to look at it all the time when I was playing but I’m not too bad now. We’ve spoken about how many points usually get you to where you want to be, you can work it out roughly over the last 10 or 12 seasons.
“It doesn’t matter how we get there, we know how many wins we want, even though we’d obviously love to win every game, but we know what total we’ll probably need. It doesn’t matter how the league table looks now or how other people get on, if we end up with a certain points total we’ll end up in a certain position in the league.
“That’s why we just have to get on with it. The players might be feeling it after a few weeks but we’ve got a really good group who work hard, so their fitness levels are good.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s a good one, and we’re really excited and chomping at the bit to get going.”
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