GREAT Harwood made it to the top of the North West Counties Division Two table following their two wins and two draws at the start of the season.
John Hughes's side defeated Leek CSOB 1-0 at the weekend thanks to a Jon Eastham strike - but had Dave Sharples sent off for dissent. And they drew 1-1 with Formby on Monday, Chris Heslop scoring, but another experienced campaigner, Neil Kennedy, saw red for retaliation. They still could have grabbed the win at the death but James Coonan's volley hit the post.
"I was pleased with Saturday as Leek are a good side and they will be up there," said Hughes. "However, I thought we were rubbish on Monday. I think too many of the young players thought they had done enough and I lost my voice after the game telling them they hadn't! And the sendings-off are obviously disappointing."
Hughes was also frustrated with two injuries in a physical game - midfielder Paul Goldthorpe suffered ligament damage and will be out for seven weeks while new signing Martin Parker badly bruised his foot. Harwood, however, now turn their attentions to the FA Cup preliminary round on Saturday when UniBond side North Ferriby United make the trip to the Showground (3pm).
"Hopefully we will put on a good show. We beat Rossendale in pre-season and did well against Kendal so it is a chance for the younger lads to test themselves against UniBond opposition. They will get the chance to see how far they have progressed."
Hughes is hoping to have Paul Mashiter back fully-fit - the striker has missed a couple of games with flu although he came back into the fold on Monday. And the Harwood chief is desperate for striker Matty Derbyshire to start a game. The teenager hasn't yet played this season for Harwood through suspension and other commitments but Hughes wants him to lead the line on Saturday.
"We want him to play tomorrow. It is disappointing that we haven't had the chance to see him yet as he will do well for us."
Harwood are back in league action next Tuesday when they make the trip to Blackpool Mechanics (ko 7.45pm).