View From The Dugout

View From The Dugout: We’re top and feeling positive… but today’s derby will be a big test

By Phil Parkinson at

I was very pleased that we were able to keep our excellent run going this week with a 3-0 home victory over Halesowen Town in the Evo-Stik Premier Division and progressing in the Integro League Cup on penalties after the game had finished in a 3-3 draw.

Last Saturday’s win sent us to the top of the table, but Shaw Lane didn’t play due to their involvement in the Emirates FA Cup, so in some ways they are still in a better position than either ourselves or Warrington. At this stage of the season, the most important thing is to be in and around the top five and stay there until Christmas time and then hopefully kick on from there in the New Year.

Watch highlights of the win over Halesowen:

Things are going well just now but there are bound to be some big challenges ahead. With the onset of winter, the pitches become a bit of a leveller and keeping players fit and healthy is paramount if we are going to continue to have a successful league campaign, but we are only just over a third the way through the league fixtures and that means that there are still a huge amount of games still to play.

We’ve got a tough looking run of league fixtures coming up, starting with today’s trip to Warrington Town, followed by home games against Lancaster City and Buxton and then a trip to Barnsley to take on Shaw Lane… we also have a Buildbase FA Trophy tie at home to Clitheroe amongst those games, so there will be five or six games to play in an important two and a half weeks.

Action from last week’s victory over Halesowen

We are going into those games in a very positive frame of mind as we have been winning matches, scoring plenty of goals and remaining very tight at the back… since our last league defeat at Workington, we have played eight Evo-Stik Premier Division games, winning six and drawing two, scoring 23 goals and conceding just two.

For today’s game at Cantilever Park against Warrington, we are up against one of the sides that are expected to be somewhere around the top places come the end of April. Paul Carden has put a good squad of players together and this will be another big test for us. It’s a local derby and I am sure that there will be a large contingent of travelling Alty fans, who have made such a difference at both home and away games so far this season.

Tom Hannigan came off early in the second half against Halesowen on Saturday and we’ll have to see how he is today, but if he’s not one hundred per cent right, we have other players who can come in for him to cover. Unfortunately, Laurence Taylor took a bang on his ankle that was badly injured at Abbey Hey in the FA Cup, so that was a bit of a blow as Tuesday night’s game against Ashton United was his first game for over six weeks.

Pictures: Michael Ripley

Josh Hancock beats his man to the ball