Preston are a physical side who are very combative at the breakdown: it’s our job to try and manage that

8th March 2016

After yet another postponement, Macclesfield Blues will travel to Preston and hopefully get their season back on track. Naturally the Blues were frustrated at not playing last weekend, but Head Coach, Giles Heagerty, says the team just have to pick themselves up and go again. Frustrations and disappointments have to be set aside so that the team can concentrate on the bigger goal – winning the league.

The Blues currently sit 15 points clear at the top of National League 2 North, with 3 games in hand on nearest rival Stourbridge. Yet the job is far from done. There are still 9 games to play, and a lot can still change before the season finally ends. So the Blues will need to maintain focus and concentration if they are to get the job done. Here’s what Giles had to say ahead of this weekend’s fixture at Lightfoot Lane.

Do constant postponements still frustrate you, or are you simply now resigned to finishing the season late?

“Well I don’t know whether my frustrations will ever cease, but this latest postponement was slightly easier to take as the weather had been that bad last week that I’d almost prepared for it. I suppose I’ve come to a point now this season where I just have to accept that it’s something that’s beyond our control. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is.”

Has anything positive come out of the Harrogate postponement?

“Strangely enough there has. We’re now on the same number of games as Sedgley Park, which might sound like an odd thing to say on the face of it, but it now means the lay of the land in the league becomes a lot clearer. That’s certainly the case with the top 4 or 5 teams: everybody now knows where they stand, and that will be needed to end in the top 2.”

“Now I know that might sound like I’m trying to put a bit of a positive spin on it, but that’s genuinely how I’m thinking. Obviously we’re disappointed by the postponement as we definitely wanted to play, and we know this setback will mean we’ll now be playing well into May, but as I said, at least we now know where we stand.”

When will the Harrogate game now be played?

“It’s scheduled for May 14th now, which is far from ideal. The season keeps getting longer and longer and that’s not great. My wife’s fairly unhappy as you would expect, but as I’ve said, it is what it is. What shouldn’t be forgotten is that the late season finish will also have ramifications for the Senior County Season, as I think that starts that same weekend. We’ll still be playing, and so will a couple of other sides. We’ve therefore got to weigh up what we’re going to do about that, and decide whether we can release players or not. We’ll just have to hope the league will be done and dusted by then.”

When the Blues played Preston Grasshoppers at Priory Park it would be fair to say the contest was rather one-sided: are you expecting a different scenario at Lightfoot Lane?

“Yes, I’m sure it will be a different ball game for a number of reasons. After they’d played us in September, they suddenly seemed to come to life. Since then they’ve got themselves into a very good run of form and into a decent league position. I know they had a bit of a bump against Luctonians last week; but with the way Luctonians are playing at the moment that didn’t come as a big surprise. They pushed us hard, and they beat Caldy: so they’re going great guns.”

“Lightfoot Lane is always a tough place to go to. It’s a big wide pitch that lends itself to running rugby in good conditions. They will no doubt be smarting from the defeat at Priory Park, and will be looking for revenge. They’re in good form, so we’re expecting a tough match. We’ve got to concentrate on our own game, and not let last weekend’s postponement impact on our mentality and momentum. Because of the weather disruptions we now have a very clear mathematical target laid out for us from now on til the end of the season. We know what we have to do, and my job is set some steep targets over the remainder of the season to ensure we achieve our goals – starting this weekend.”

What are Preston’s major threats?

“As I mentioned earlier they’ve got a very good pitch, and if the weather stays dry as forecasted, they’ve got a very good 10 who can move the ball around and cause us problems. He’s the type of player who can control the game and put them in the right areas, so we have to be wary of that. They’ve also got some good young players. They’ve got John Mackenzie in the forwards, who’s playing well for them, and they’ve also got a couple of tidy backs, particularly in the back 3. So we know if we kick loosely to them, they will punish you. We also know they’re a physical side who are very combative at the breakdown, and it’s our job to try and manage that.”