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RICHARDS: “We can’t hide away from how important the game is!”

The biggest games in the NCEL Premier Division this weekend is undoubtedly Penistone Church’s short trip to table toppers Worksop Town.

Church Manager Ian Richards spoke to their media team yesterday ahead of the clash, which is expected to be attended by over 700 spectators. “We look forward to Saturday, obviously because of the magnitude of the game, playing against the League leaders. The team have just broken a record: eleven wins in a row. Huge favourites now for the League with six of their final seven final games at home, they’ve put themselves in a really strong position, six points clear, therefore huge favourites for the game. The size of their resources, the size of their catchment and the size of their club, it’s just a great opportunity for us to play against them.”

“We’re up there on merit. We’re still second, even though we’ve had a three-week break, during which we’ve trained really well, and that’s another reason why we’re excited for the game. The players have been excellent, their spirit and togetherness second to none.”

“We’re going there and we’re going to make sure we enjoy the game, first and foremost. We’re going to make sure that the players play to their strengths, play to their maximum potential and put in a performance we can be proud of. I know the 150-strong who’ll go from Penistone will support that and, whatever the outcome, they’ll have those players’ backs and they’ll appreciate that we’ve got a group of players that we’re very lucky to have at this football club.”

“To be in a position where we’re challenging with Worksop Town for the title is an unbelievable achievement in itself.”

“Now we’re in that position we want to win the game, so we’ve got a clear game plan, a clear way of how we want to play: we’ll play the Penistone Church way. We owe ourselves that, because of how well the players have done this season. The enforced rest has given some players the opportunity to refresh, get over some niggles and knocks that they’ve been carrying, so we go there with a strong squad. A strong starting eleven but a strong bench that will give us options.”

“We’ve got to make sure that we enjoy playing in front of a big crowd. We’re fortunate that these players are used to that from playing at Bramall Lane twice in front of 500-plus; playing away at Harrogate Town, who were top of the National League North, now seventh, in front of 800 and beating Whitby here in front of 650-plus. We’ve also done well in this position before against top teams last season, beating Pontefract Collieries home and away; going away beating them 2-1 then beating them at home and having to change our left back three times. So the players are used to these situations. Their success and their quality have made sure they’re used to this so, it’s nothing new for them.”

“We haven’t done any extra preparation because it would be disrespectful to other teams if we do that, just because we’re playing Worksop. Every game I prepare with a game plan in mind, with attention to detail. The players prepare right for every single game and that’s why we’ve been so consistent, so it will be no different. We’ll travel and arrive at the game as normal; we are going there to get three points! Whatever the outcome we’ll make sure we do ourselves proud, the club proud and in the process hope that everybody connected with the club has a great day out.”

“Hopefully we’ll get the win that then makes the last seven games even more interesting. Whoever wins Saturday doesn’t win the League, because it’s disrespectful to Bridlington. Staveley still have an outside chance, plus Yorkshire Amateur and Hemsworth but we know if Worksop win it’s even more in their hands.”

“So we can’t hide away from how important the game is but we’re going to go there and give it our best shot and hopefully come back with three points.”

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