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LADIES | Johnson looks ahead to vital final month
Jack McGraghan
Author: Jack McGraghan

25th April 2022

Ladies manager Simon Johnson hopes his side have achieved their aspirations of promotion with one month remaining of the season.

The Heed sit third prior to Tuesday’s home game against Gateshead Rutherford Ladies (7pm kick off), and have games in hand on both Darlington FC Women and Hartlepool Pools Youth Ladies above them.

“It’s going to be a good test for us,” said Johnson.

“Rutherford have had a bit of an uptake in form and we know they’re quite a physical side.

“They’ll be hoping to finish as strongly as possible so it’ll be a good test, and is the start of a busy month for us.

“It’s something that we’re looking forward to – it will be challenging but we want to finish strongly.”

Johnson’s side are still to face both sides above themselves away from home before the season’s conclusion, with seven games remaining in Durham FA Women’s League One.

“Coming into the business end of the season, it’s going to be the same scenario that all teams will face,” said Johnson.

“For ourselves it’s about making sure that our prep is done properly, and the recovery after games is done to make sure that we’re in the best condition possible going into our next fixture.

“The Tuesday games we have just replace when we’d train anyway, but we’ll maybe look to change up our training schedule to include a recovery session.

“The players so far have stood up to the test, especially early on in the season when we played in quick succession, so I think they’re just chomping at the bit to play games.”

The Heed now have three fixtures at home and four away to play with the league title within reach, but the manager feels sticking to the game plan which has served them well all season affords them their best chance of success.

“At home we play on a 4G surface, so we know what we’re going to get,” he added.

“A couple of our games away from home are on grass pitches so that brings its own challenges, but what I would say is at this stage of the season the pitches are generally in good condition anyway.

“We won’t go away from how we want to play, our process and the game plan we have in place whether we’re playing at home or away.”

A second promotion in as many seasons is the ambition in Johnson’s first season in charge having taken over in the summer of 2021, but he is keen to stress that games in hand are just that until they can turn those into tangible points.

“From the outside you can see that we’re in a good position,” he continued.

“You can see that we’ve got games in hand and we’re level on points with second place, but those games count for nothing if we don’t win them.

“For us it’s the start of our end of season chapter in terms of making sure we get through our games, and hopefully can come out of the season having achieved our aims and aspirations.”

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