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Extensive preview as Glassy host League leaders Winterton

Although the Bootiful Game team are all on an ‘All Expenses Paid’ trip to Hemsworth Miners Welfare this weekend, courtesy of superannuated media entrepreneur Craig ‘Diamond Geezer’ Kendall (yeah, right..), we will be keeping a keen eye on all the other games in a busy weekend of Toolstation NCEL League football – nowhere more so than at the TJ’s Travel Arena in Castleford, where seventh-placed Glasshoughton Welfare lie in wait for Division One League Leaders Winterton Rangers – and both of Glassy’s Joint Managers believe that Rob Watson’s side are more than capable of going all the way to the Premier Division this season, writes Colin Muncie.

Glasshoughton go into the game on the back of away and home losses, and Lee Vigars admits that he’s a big fan of the men from West Street. “After two successive defeats, the last thing you need is to come up against the League leaders,” Lee admitted. “Winterton are having a fantastic season and sit – deservedly – at the top of the table. Since taking over, Rob has changed the way they play and the results have proved that what he is doing is working. The result last week against Dunston (in the FA Vase) was outstanding and if ever a team needed extra confidence, a win against a side like that brings it – in abundance.”

Those two recent losses have left Lee scratching his head. “Two weeks ago, we beat Shirebrook Town at home 3-0 and didn’t really get out of third gear,” he recalled. “There was a real feeling back then amongst our lads that we couldn’t lose a game, as our confidence was sky high after such strong performances against higher league opposition – and comfortable League wins. Fast forward a couple of weeks and things couldn’t be more different. Two bad results have left us in seventh, when we honestly thought we’d be sitting in third now with games in hand – and planning a top-of-the-table clash this weekend. It just proves that the old cliché is right of taking one game at a time – and there really are no freebies at this level. Positions in the league table mean nothing unless you perform on the day – and that’s something we need to get back to – starting this weekend.”

Lee feels the time may be right to change his approach, anticipating that Saturday’s visitors will arrive with real intent. “The set up on Saturday may be different to the Swallownest and Harworth games in regards to the fact Winterton will come to us expecting to win and will probably play a completely different way to our last two opponents,” Lee explained. “In previous games that’s helped us as we’ve been very good on the counter whilst defending strongly – yet we’ve struggled when teams have sat in against us and asked questions of us, about breaking them down.”

“We didn’t do a great deal wrong on Tuesday night,” Lee insisted, “we just didn’t get the goals our dominance deserved – but that’s football. We can’t change that result now so we’ll turn up on Saturday fully prepared, give 100% and see where that takes us.”

Glasshoughton Welfare joint managers Lee Vigars and Darren Holmes.

Lee’s colleague, Darren Holmes is expecting an end-to-end attacking encounter. “We are very much looking forward to Saturday,” Darren told TBG. “We’ve had a couple of very disappointing results and instead of playing to get ourselves in the top three we are looking to get things rolling again. Winterton are playing very well and look – very much – like title contenders, so it’s going to be very tough.”

Darren agrees that Winterton won’t come to shut up shop. “It should be a more open game than our last two games as I’m sure Winterton will fancy getting a result on Saturday and play attacking football – and hopefully allow us to find a few gaps. The lads know what’s required and am sure will give 110% to put things right.”

“It’s a long season,” Darren reminded us, “and consistency is key if we are to do well again this year in what is a very competitive League.”
Winterton’s blistering start has given them a two-point lead at the top of the tree, but Manager Rob Watson – delighted by that FA Vase win last Saturday – knows that his players will have to maintain their recent standards to leave the TJ’s with the spoils. “I’m expecting a tough game away at Glasshoughton,” he warned. “It’s never an easy place to go – but we go there full of confidence from the weekend. We only have one long term injury with Elliot Broughton breaking his arm – which is a loss, but we have adequate cover this season.”

Rob wants to stay at the front of the pack heading into the back end of the year. “We want to remain top of the league and keep winning, as we know that the Christmas period can be tough for some teams – and with games getting cancelled can cause havoc for smaller squads.”

Rob’s Assistant, Scott Helliwell, is hoping to build on the win over Dunston UTC. “We are looking forward to Saturday; the lads can’t wait to get back on the pitch after the Vase win. We know what to expect from Glasshoughton; they are a physical, hard-working team. We need the same or better performance than in our previous meeting (a 2-0 home win in September) to – hopefully – get three points.”

“The lads have trained well tonight (Wednesday) and there’s a bit of a buzz in the camp right now – and hopefully it will remain.”

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