Pitmen determined to keep their focus

Hednesford Town boss Gary Hayward sees the FA Cup as a double-edged sword as his men prepare to face Boston United for a spot in the first round.

Hednesford Town celebrate as they overcame Blyth Spartans in the last round
Hednesford Town celebrate as they overcame Blyth Spartans in the last round

The Southern Central Premier promotion-chasers welcome National League North side Boston to Keys Park in the fourth qualifying round tomorrow.

For Hayward, joining tomorrow’s opponents at the sixth tier of English football is the priority this season – and he is determined to not let the Cup distract from the task ahead.

“The FA Cup is a blessing, but also can be a distraction too,” he said. “We want to challenge ourselves, but realistically we are not going to win the FA Cup.

“It is important to reach the first round, but we need to make sure we do not lose focus in the league.”

Some of that focus was arguably lost as the Pitmen were knocked off the top of the league with a 4-0 defeat against Bromsgrove Sporting in midweek.

“Even Manchester City and Manchester United have blips,” said Hayward. “We have a big game on Saturday and a few eyes went off the ball.

“But credit to Bromsgrove, they were the better team on the night.

“I rested a few players with one eye on Saturday and reaching the first round is important. It is very important.

“The chairman has given us a decent budget and this is a good way to bring funds into the club.

“It is also good for the players to test themselves against a side like Boston.

“We beat (Boston’s league rivals) Blyth Spartans (in the last round) and there is no reason why we cannot do the same again. We are the underdogs, but our players are all step two (National North) players and there is no reason why we cannot do it again.

“We want to be challenging and playing against teams like Boston.

“When I took over, we were relegation fodder. We miraculously survived and now we are looking up.

The draw for the first round of the FA Cup will take place on Monday.

This year, due to Bury’s expulsion from the Football League, the team that is drawn last out of the hat will receive a bye to the second round, as well as first round prize money.

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