THE VAST majority of Yorkshire sides may be cooling their heels tomorrow afternoon, but there’s pressing business to attend to for a quintet of clubs as opportunity knocks.
Barnsley, Sheffield United and York City are all in action, along with Guiseley and FC Halifax in the National Conference.
For the Reds and Blades, there’s the chance to steal a march on some rivals who are taking the weekend off, while for York, the mission is backing up an impressive cup result in midweek.
Here are six observations ahead of the action ...
1: Can Barnsley finally stop floating like a butterfly and sting like a bee?
The Reds’ football between both boxes has, by and large, been pleasing on the eye this season. But delivering a knock-out blow has been proving a problem - with last weekend’s derby loss at Doncaster being a case in point.
The Reds played nearly all of the football, had plenty of the ball and created chances. But all they had to show for it was a solitary goal from a set-piece.
Decision-making in the final third and more especially in front of goal has been fitful at stages this season - with a youthful side showing their greenhorn nature at times.
Up next are Crewe tomorrow and after spilling points to lowly Doncaster, Blackpool and Shrewsbury this season - but beating high-flying Burton and Gillingham - they need to show some ruthless tendencies.
2: Sheffield United: Learn to embrace the pressure at the Lane.
Nigel Adkins’ observation is an astute one. It’s ok looking the bees knees in front of a sparse crowd against Notts County in midweek, but the trick is to do it when close to 20,000 are there, as there will be on Saturday against Rochdale.
Being a Blades player in League One requires not just the requisite footballing qualities, but the right mindset and character to prosper in front of a crowd who will expect you to win most weeks and certainly not be inhibited when things aren’t going to plan.
It’s not rocket science that most visiting sides will set out to frustrate and smother at Bramall Lane and the Blades have to deal with that physically and mentally. Certainly, having the right mentality is crucial for the club’s overall prospects of success this season. Be aggressive and assertive and don’t go into your shell when things aren’t hunky-dory.
3: After Tuesday’s confidence booster against Doncaster, York would be foolish to waste it.
York’s display on Tuesday night was a pretty exemplary one. Russ Wilcox’s side dictated proceedings against a League One side who fielded a strong line-up with the display making you scratch your head as to why the Minstermen have struggled this term. They produced a similar display against Bradford City in the Capital One Cup.
York were assertive and energetic in midweek, playing with a high tempo and possessed a threat up front and defended well at the back.
But as Wilcox rightly said, the pressure was off in midweek when York were underdogs and did not have too much to lose. York need to draw on Tuesday’s display and endeavour to replicate it and not waste the good work against Rovers.
4: Can Rob Jones further his claim for the manager’s job at Doncaster Rovers
Doncaster Rovers managed their first win under caretaker manager Rob Jones against Barnsley at the weekend. Richard Chaplow scored in the 90th minute to earn a 2-1 win.
It was a first win in six for Jones, who said in September: “I love being in this position and will do everything in my power to stay in it.”
If he wants to keep the job on a permanent basis, Jones will need to put some form together - his charges lost 2-0 against York City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday night.
While Doncaster are currently 21st in the table, they are only six points off the play-offs. If Jones can get his team playing well, winning and climbing the table, it would send the message to the Doncaster hierarchy that he deserves the post.
5: Guiseley do not need to panic despite back-to-back home losses.
The Lions’ seven-match unbeaten streak came to a halt in last Friday’s televised home loss to Lincoln, with Macclesfield then easing to a 3-0 Nethermoor win on Tuesday.
Mark Bower admitted in midweek it was the first time this season that the Lions have been wholly outplayed, but despite the dual losses, they should not be beating themselves up.
It was always likely that at some point that the club would endure a wobble or two, competing against a host of bigger clubs, many of whom are professional outfits.
Factor in also that Guiseley are in the midst of an arduous run of games, with Bower’s side visiting leaders Forest Green tomorrow and then Wrexham on Tuesday.
Guiseley had been obdurate and disciplined at their travels and are unbeaten in five and just need to continue in the same vein.
6: FC Halifax Town can give their new boss a lift
It’s been a bit difficult to judge Halifax since they appointed Darren Kelly as manager.
There’s few worse ways to introduce yourself to your fans than losing 7-1 at home, but a win on Tuesday night away from home against Altrincham suggests that Kelly could make a difference for Halifax.
It’s now time for the players to help the new manager out and give him the boost he needs and show that the result against Altrincham was no fluke.
Woking sit in 13th, well above Halifax, but if the Shaymen want to start climbing the league and exit the relegation zone, it’s exactly the sort of game they need to start winning at The Shay.