Salford City head to Oldham Athletic on Saturday for the second meeting between the pair this season.
Since that meeting at the end of October The Ammies have maintained form and head to Boundary Park in seventh, with a view to putting together a consistent run of results.
One of this season’s biggest consistencies though has been goalkeeper Vaclav Hladky after his move from St. Mirren in the summer. With 12 clean sheets in 24 matches, the Czech’s quality has contributed significantly to Salford’s campaign but the 30-year-old admits there is still more to come from the team in the second half of the campaign.
“It’s tougher than I expected, before I joined the club everyone was talking about how we’re going to fly over the league, it’s looking like it’s going to be a nice season, everything is going to be easy but it’s not, it’s very tough.
“The standard and level of quality in the league is pretty high but it’s good and we have to be ready and work hard every day, and get some great results to push us as high as possible.
“I think there were a couple of games where we lost [points] in the last minute and it’s always disappointing when you lose a game at the end. If I count well I think it’s six points we’ve lost very cheap and we could be much higher.
“But it’s a work in progress, it’s about doing the right things to the end of the game and I think it’s going to be better and better, I’m quite excited about how we’re working right now with the Gaffer, we’re working on it and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be better.”
Last season’s meeting at Oldham was a memorable one for Salford as Brandon Thomas-Asante and Jake Jervis notched two each in a 4-1 win.
While Hladky knows what the mindset will be and the intensity required, the added encouragement and support from the fans will be a missing factor. However that won’t detract from the team wanting to return with all three points.
“I used to play for St. Mirren in Glasgow and there is a couple of games like this, local derbies, so it’s always pretty exciting. Obviously with fans it’s much more fancy, especially when you play against Oldham at a nice stadium, it’s going to be a nice afternoon up there and hopefully we get the three points.
“They’re very exciting games, full of energy, full of great battles for every ball and I think fans love it, and we as players as well.
“It’s strange, basically I don’t know the fans, Salford fans, and it’s something what’s frustrated me.
“Obviously I get a lot of messages on social media, it’s not the same to feel that energy from them at a stadium but it’s what it is and I’m pretty, pretty sure it’s going to be quick as possible in the right way and hopefully at the end of the season we’re going to be celebrating together at the stadium.”
Salford could be without James Wilson who has picked up a niggle, but Richie Towell will be pushing for a start after making a positive impact from the bench against Harrogate. Darron Gibson remains out after a serious injury picked up in October.
The Latics are in a better position under Harry Kewell than last season, but that is largely supplemented by their impressive away form. At home Oldham have managed just 10 points from 13 games, but two of those wins have come in the last five including a 3-2 victory against Newport County last time out at home. If they can manage a win on Saturday, it will be back-to-back home wins for the first time since this point last season.
January has seen movement at Boundary Park, most significantly with Danny Rowe leaving for Bradford City and Nicky Adams arriving from Northampton Town. The 34-year-old has been promoted from League Two in each of the last two seasons and will bring a sturdiness and stability to The Latics. Also in are Marcus Barnes and Marcel Hilßner.
It’s likely to be a different-look Oldham to the team that took to the field at The Peninsula Stadium with some players out injured too, but Hladky says The Ammies need to be ready for whatever as going forward The Latics can still be a threat, scoring a league second-highest 39 goals.
“It’s hard to say, it could be the same but you never know for example when we played Harrogate away from home it was a game where we dominated then they come to our stadium and played a slightly different game.
“They have some good footballers, comfortable on the ball so we need to be ready, we need to be focused and we work on it, and hopefully we can celebrate and get three points on Saturday.
“I think we altogether are now more focused for every game because now it’s second half of the season and every game is so important and we need to be ready.”
HOW TO WATCH
Saturday’s clash is available to watch online at live.salfordcityfc.co.uk. We would like to remind fans to stay away from Boundary Park in line with government guidance to stay home.
Match passes cost £10 in the UK and £7 abroad, click here for more information.
To watch the full interview with Vac, tune in for our pre-match show on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter from 14:30 live from the TalkTalk Studio.