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Big time for Harwood

IT is a big week for Great Harwood as they look to get their promotion hunt back on track in the NWCL Division Two.

IT is a big week for Great Harwood as they look to get their promotion hunt back on track in the NWCL Division Two.

Harwood need a top four finish to guarantee a place in the higher league when the divisions are restructured next season.

But recent results haven't gone to plan and they have dropped off the pace. A 2-1 win over promotion-chasers Flixton on Wednesday night did brighten the cloud which had descended over the Showground - Neil Zarac and Paul Mashiter were on the scoresheet.

But boss John Hughes is still demanding more from his players after slamming Saturday's performance as "pathetic" when they slipped to a 2-1 loss to Norton. Zarac grabbed the consolation on 90 minutes.

And with a game at struggling Holker Old Boys tomorrow (3pm) followed by a home game against Leek CSOB on Monday night (7.45pm), six points are important if Harwood are to continue to make an impact at the top of the table.

Hughes knows his side cannot continue to be wasteful in front of goal.

"We were just rubbish on Saturday," said the Harwood chief. "We are just not taking our chances."

"At the start of the season I had four strikers - Paul Mashiter, Matty Derbyshire, John Eastham and Darren Rodgers. Matty has left, John has had an operation and Mashy has been struggling with a virus. It has left us short. I do keep swapping and changing things around so I can have a look at new players and perhaps it is my fault. What made it worse on Saturday was it was Norton's first away win of the season."

Harwood have struggled against lower teams and Holker will provide tough opposition on Saturday.

"I can't weigh it up why we don't perform against the lower sides," continued Hughes. "I just want us to enjoy the football like we were at the start of the season. I thought the 1-1 draw with Padiham last week would be a kick up the backside but if that wasn't, Saturday was a definite wake-up call. The lads did respond on Wednesday and now they have to continue to do that."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
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Jon Macpherson
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