Olympic challenge follows month off for Blues

WHITBY Town take on newly-promoted Rushall Olympic this Saturday (18 Feb), their first game in a month after snow and ice played havoc with the league programme, writes Andrew Snaith.

The second-bottom Seasiders are still seven points adrift of safety, with West Midlands mid-tablers Rushall targeted on their first ever visit to the Turnbull Ground.

For defender Kevin Burgess it’s felt like an eternity on the sidelines. The former Darlington star hasn’t kicked a ball since December due to injury and suspension and the talisman admits he’s a lousy spectator.

“It’s frustrating watching from the stand - I can’t wait to get back out there,” the centre-half told the Whitby Gazette.

“I’m always shouting out at the lads, but it’s awful watching, no footballer likes watching.”

Burgess has put most of his energy over the past 10 weeks into preparing for his eventual return, stating: “I’ve been working very hard in the gym, going on late-night runs, working hard in training and hopefully I’ll get my chance and take it.

“If Darren Williams chooses me to play, I’ll do my best as I always do, but if not, I’ll back the team as I always do.”

Walsall side Rushall will be no pushovers, sitting a comfortable eighth, with just one league defeat since the turn of the year.

Burgess acknowledges it won’t be easy, especially against physical opposition who defeated the Blues 3-2 when the clubs first met in October,

However, he remains confident, claiming: “We’ll just have to deal with that and hope we come out on top.

“Every team in our league’s pretty difficult to play against - but there’s only been one outstanding team in Chester.”

The former Middlesbrough junior also believes rivals Mickleover being deducted three points will help spur the Blues on, after nearly a month without competitive football.

“It just gives us a bit of a lift and more of an incentive to get back out there.

“All the lads know that we can do it, they’ve certainly got the ability,” he said.

“It’s about what we’re going to do, not them. If we win more games than them then we’ll stay up and I think its something we’re well capable of doing.”

Kick-off at the Turnbull Ground is 3pm with admission still just £8 adults, £5 concessions and £2 under 16s.

Last week’s waterlogged trip to sixth-placed Bradford Park Avenue has been hastily rearranged for this coming Monday (20 Feb) with a 7.45pm kick-off.

John Deacey’s promotion chasers picked up lively North Ferriby forward Alex Davidson last weekend and the game will see Jimmy Beadle line up against his old club.

Beadle (23) re-joined the Blues from the South Yorkshire side in November. It had also been the midfielder’s second spell at the Horsfall Stadium and saw him net the two goals that took them through to the first round proper of this season’s FA Cup.

Town will now travel to Matlock Town on Wednesday 18 April, meaning they end the season with back-to-back trips to Derbyshire. Relegation rivals Buxton provide the opposition at their Silverlands home, three days later.