Shelley have to find a cure for home sickness
SHELLEY boss Ash Berry has urged his players to shake off a lengthy bout of home sickness as they head into the second half of the Hallmark Security League North West Counties League campaign.
The seventh-placed Huddersfield side face AFC Blackpool at the Stafflex Arena on Saturday at 3pm having won only three of 10 First Division North games to take place on their own turf.
It’s worth pointing out Shelley have already hosted five of the six teams above them in the table, but the experienced Berry isn’t one to accept excuses.
And he is eager to complete a second double (his side won 2-1 at AFC Blackpool a month ago) ahead of testing trips to Liverpool’s Lower Breck and Cumbrian club Cleator Moor Celtic.
“It’s frustrating that we have won six times away but don’t have anything like as good a record at home, and we need to put that right,” he said.
“It’s not even a recent thing, because we had a similar situation when we were in the West Yorkshire League last season.
“We certainly can’t blame our pitch or our facilities – maybe other teams come here, see what our set-up is like, and raise their game.
“I’m pleased with how we have done overall in the first half of the season, because to be seventh at this stage is encouraging and if we’re being honest, better than we expected.
“But we are all aware we can’t take our foot off the pedal, because we are getting to that stage where the conditions are that bit tougher.
“We’ve always said this is a tight division and that nothing can be taken for granted, and a look at recent results confirms that.
“We need to dig in and work hard to get another win, because that would be a big boost ahead of a tricky run of games.”
Along with NWCL Premier Division side Squires Gate, and West Lancashire League front runners, Blackpool Wren Rovers, AFC Blackpool are one of three clubs in close proximity in the town.
Dave Worthington’s 13th-placed Tangerines started the campaign strongly, winning five and drawing two of their opening nine league games.
But there has been only one victory in nine since, and including the NWCFL First Division Cup, AFC have suffered three defeats running – the most recent 3-2 at Atherton Laburnum Rovers on Tuesday.
“They’re a better side than the table suggests, and we had to work hard for our win at their place, so we know they will pose us some danger,” added Berry.
Shelley could hand a home debut to striker Gary Driscoll, recently signed from First Division North rivals Steeton.
The Leeds-based player caught the eye in last Saturday’s 2-2 draw at St Helens Town, where midfielders Marc Townsend and Jack Davies netted.