Points target to boost Cleckheaton ambition
By Trevor Watson
CLECKHEATON have set themselves a target of 12 points from their next three games, starting at West Park St Helens tomorrow (2.15pm) as they seek to climb away from near the foot of National Three North.
The other two games are also away, at West Hartlepool and Darlington Mowden Park, and as Cleckheaton have yet to win on their travels this season, the size of the task they have set themselves is clear.
One of the reasons for the ambitious target was that the side played so well against Chester last week and were again slightly unlucky to be edged out by the third-placed side by a margin of only four points. While the bonus point was welcome the stage has been reached when Cleckheaton need four or preferably five points from matches if they are to climb away from the bottom three.
Another win for Rochdale last Saturday has now taken them 13 points clear of the Moorenders, so the size of the safety task is growing.
Cleckheaton’s optimism and determination comes from the fact that for tomorrow’s game an unchanged team has been named for the first time this season. The only changes made are on the bench where the players who were subs last week had little game time and they have been moved into the Kestrels for the home match with Pontefract (2.15pm).
Coach Dave Harrison explained: “After the long lay-off, the players need a good work-out. We have Owen Edwards available and he will be on the bench, while Andy Goodwin is there to give us cover at prop and Neil Gillan is also on hand for pack cover.
“We played extremely well against Chester last week and after the game we had a good get-together and set ourselves the target of 12 points from the next three games, even though they are all away. We only need that bit of luck to turn things. We missed a couple of clear chances in the first half and defended very well in the second as they had a better kicking game and kept us pinned in the corners.
“The overall effort was excellent and we could have no complains about the attitude of the players, they never gave up.”
Harrison had particular praise for the efforts of skipper Paul Turner and Richard Piper up front and Matt Piper in the centre.
He added: “They have been the stand-out players, the ones who have performed week in, week out. Pete Murphy has also done a fine job and it’s a great help to at last be able to select the same side for a second successive game. Constant changes during the season have disrupted us.
“To go so close, so often has been frustrating and it shows how close the margin can be between success and failure.”
The near-misses throughout the season can be summed up by the fact that, while Cleckheaton have lost 13 of their 15 league games, their overall points difference is only minus 86, which is fewer than six points a game.
The next two fixtures are especially important because West Park and West Hartlepool are only a point behind the Moorenders in the table. The fact that they both won at Cleckheaton is particularly irritating for those results could have a major impact at the end of the season.
Matt Piper made a good impression when his side returned to action against Chester last Saturday. (27011010)
Picture: Paul Butterfield.