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Award curse strikes again

FOOTBALL: THE curse of the Manager of the Month well and truly struck for Great Harwood Town boss John Hughes last Saturday.

THE curse of the Manager of the Month well and truly struck for Great Harwood boss John Hughes last Saturday.

The Robins chief was awarded the December prize after four out of five wins in the league and getting Harwood through to the semi-final of Division Two Trophy. And there was even more delight when striker Paul Mashiter - who scored two hat-tricks last month - picked up the Player of the Month award for his goalscoring heroics.

But it all went wrong when the NWCL Division Two title chasers lost 2-1 to struggling Chadderton last Saturday. After just one league loss all season, Harwood on paper should have strolled this one. But Hughes admitted: "It was a nightmare. We just didn't play at all. We didn't deserve anything from it."

However they now have a chance to bounce back in style when top of the table Maine Road visit the Showground on Saturday (KO 3pm).

"It was good to get the recognition with the award for the players, the management and the backroom staff," said Hughes. "It isn't about awards though, I am in this game to watch the young kids come through. But it is nice and we are progressing nicely.

"Saturday was a freak result - I noticed the same happened to Nelson as they lost to Oldham and it was just one of those things. But, with the weather, we haven't trained for three weeks and it did really show on Saturday. We usually train twice a week and we need to get back into it."

Chadderton went ahead through Love on seven minutes and Harwood then lost striker Neil Zarac, a recent signing, with a knee injury on 20 minutes and he will face a couple of weeks on the sidelines. Midfielder Aaron Douglas also came off at half-time with an injury.

Moore grabbed number two for the Oldham side on 51 minutes before Mashiter popped up to score in the 90th minute - but it was just a consolation for Harwood.

"Captain Ryan Parr usually puts some good tackles in but he hardly got a touch. Everyone was off-colour but we do have the chance to put it right," admitted the Harwood chief.

Hughes is hoping Mashiter has shrugged off a groin strain for the clash with the league leaders. And Harwood should be confident as they defeated Maine Road 2-1 in the League Challenge Cup earlier this season with Matty Derbyshire, who has since moved to Blackburn Rovers initially for £20,000, scoring both.

"It will be tough but what better way to bounce back than beat the leaders?"

Hughes continued: "Overall, last year was a good year. We made some money from the FA Cup run last season and have got some money for Matty's sale this season. We are still involved in two cup competitions and, if we win our games in hand, we could be top of the league.

"I know many of the teams above us have points in the bag and that is important. But we are still in with a big shout of a top four placing which is what we want when the league's are reorganised this year."

It is an important month for Harwood. Next Saturday (17 January), they travel to second placed Formby in the league while, on 24 January, they face the short trip to Ramsbottom for the League Challenge Cup quarter-finals. On Monday, 26 January, they are at home to bottom club Castleton.


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
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Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist