PARKGATE boss Andy Dawson says he will have no trouble raising a side for the Boxing Day derby against Swallownest as a result of the new Christmas lockdown rules.
The Government’s decision to restrict festive family “bubbles” to Christmas Day has freed up footballers to play on Boxing Day and that’s a plus for the Northern Counties East League which is running a busy programme.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s clash at the Miners’ Welfare Ground, Dawson said: “If anything, this is the only time the news that Boris Johnson has given us has worked in our favour.
“Lads would have been planning to see family on Christmas Day or Boxing Day and they can only do it on Christmas Day now. All the lads will be available. I know it’s a selfish way of thinking about it but the latest announcement about restrictions is good for me.”
The crowd at Swallownest will be restricted to 150 in line with Tier 3 rules and that figure is sure to be tested.
“I think Swallownest will get a decent crowd,” said Andy. “People will want to come and watch because they can’t do anything on Boxing Day otherwise. Usually, everybody would be going to the Rotherham, Wednesday or United.”
The fixture has added appeal because both teams go into the game on the back of wins.
Gate came from 2-1 down to beat Dronfield 3-2 last Saturday while the Swallows marked interim manager Alex Nightingale’s first match by beating Rossington 5-2.
Gate sit eighth and the Swallows 13th in Division One.
Added Dawson: “There has obviously been a change-around at their end with Jordan (Stocks) leaving so we don’t know what to expect from them because usually when a new manager comes in they hit the ground running and they did so by beating Rossington, who are a good side.
“We have just got to take is as another game and get some points on the board in case we get cancelled again in January, which we are all obviously nervous about.
Swallownest (blue shirts) in action earlier this season.
“The league gave us the option to move the Boxing Day fixture but we have nine games to fit in that have been cancelled already so we didn’t want to put another one on top of it because we are going to be playing Saturday-Wednesday, Saturday-Wednesday at some point.
“I know the lads were for the decision as well so for us it’s business as usual on Saturday.”
Gate had the perfect start against Dronfield when Ollie Yates set Brandon Bagley free to open the scoring after only three minutes.
Two goals in eight minutes from Matthew Ord had Dronfield in front at the break but the visitors were pressed back in the second half.
Their resistance was finally broken 12 minutes from time when Freddy Tracey got the last touch in a goalmouth scramble.
Dronfield were only just coming to terms with that blow when, three minutes later, Yates swung in a delicious low cross and Tracey met it to gleefully slide in the winner.
Added Dawson: “We came out quick in the first half but then let them grow into the game. We seem to have a knack of getting some momentum in the second half and I think the crowd played a part. It helped having people back in the ground.”
Swallows’ victory was just the tonic they needed after a run of five losses from six before the second lockdown.
They did the spadework in the first half by opening up a 3-1 lead through Richard Williams, Callum Greaves and Tom Cropper.
Alex Lill struck early in the second half and Tyler Bradley added the fifth before the visitors’ late consolation goal.
Kick-off on Boxing Day is 3pm.