Highway Men hoping their nerves hold up in title race

MORPETH Town manager Nicky Gray is hoping that his team can hold their nerve in the Northern League promotion race.

The Highway Men are currently eighth in Division Two with 39 points from 19 games, but have games in hand on all the teams above them and are real contenders to go up to Division One.

They had a chance of reaching the top league last season, but dropped too many points in the final two months and finished fourth.

However, the club had done better than expected at the start of the campaign.

Morpeth face some crucial games in the coming weeks, weather permitting, including an away fixture on Saturday against third-placed Seaham Red Star. They are also still involved in the E Armstrong Memorial Cup.

Gray said: “I’m fairly pleased with how the season is going. We’ve played well in a lot of the games and scored plenty of goals and we have only been beaten by the top two in the league.

“The home game against Darlington RA (Morpeth won 9-1) was one of those matches where everything went for us on the day, but it showed what we are capable of if we play at our best.

“The trip to Qatar helped to make the team spirit even stronger and everyone in the squad has played their part. I will be looking to bring some new players into the club to ensure that we have enough strength in depth for the remaining matches, especially as a couple of players have moved elsewhere.

“We will have a congested fixture list for the rest of the season because of all the postponed games, but hopefully having a run of games will be a positive for us if we get a winning momentum.

“It will be important to hold our nerve in the final eight weeks of the season. We didn’t quite keep it together last season, but hopefully we will learn from that experience.

“The experienced players I have brought in this season have done well and I’ve been impressed with some of our young players including defender Matty Tumilty and midfielder Ryan Hutchinson.

“It’s tough going from junior to senior football, but if they are good enough I will give them an opportunity to play.”

The manager hailed the hard work that is carried out by club officials behind the scenes and he also praised the groundsmen for getting the Craik Park pitch ready in difficult conditions.