It’ll be a massive shame if the titanic Toolstation NCEL Premier League collision between table-topping AFC Mansfield and third-place-but-with-seven-games-in-hand Pontefract Collieries gives our current weather system another sizeable scalp-but even if it does, Bulls Assistant Manager Mark Ward has provided an excellent and generous assessment of their title rivals, writes Colin Muncie.
Mark told the Bootiful Game “I can’t say enough about our visitors on Saturday, Pontefract. They’re the biggest surprise of the season I think, but Paz (Manager Craig Parry) Rousey (Assistant Manager Craig Rouse) and the lads deserve all the plaudits they’re receiving. They’ve recruited really well over the summer and, through the season, have added a number of quality players. They’ve found a way of playing that works for them- frightening going forward, and tight at the back -which has made them serious contenders this season”.
Mark added that he feels that his side have the quality to take the game to the visitors, and casts his mind back to the reverse fixture, a 3-2 win for Pontefract back in October .“I believe we’re just as strong as them .and if the first game as anything to go by it’s going to be one hell of a game” he said. “Win lose or draw on Saturday, there are plenty more games to get through that will play a part in the title race, so I don’t think either side will see it as make-or- break – whatever the outcome- if the game goes ahead”
Reflecting on the impact of postponements, Mark is pretty philosophical ”To be honest there have been another four or five games that have been in doubt over the last 3 months, so it’s pretty easy to manage the situation” Mark admitted. “We’d prepare for the game as normal- which is what we’ve done in the past- but as the “Beast from the East” has hit, we’ve put the players’ safety first and cancelled our training this week. Until the game is officially called off , we’ll just ask our players to be sensible and prepare themselves as they would any other week = if the game was going ahead”
“If the game is off -depending on the elements- we’ll be in training. We’ve done it all season, and, for me, keeping the lads ticking over -physically and mentally- has played a big part in our season so far”.