'Our fans will make it tough for Lincoln City', says Grimsby Town joint boss Paul Hurst
PAUL Hurst is expecting a hostile atmosphere at Sincil Bank this afternoon – for Lincoln City.
More than 1,700 Mariners supporters head down the A46 today for the derby clash against the Imps.
And after experiencing Boxing Day at Town's local rivals last year, the joint boss knows that the travelling black and white army will give their team plenty of vocal encouragement.
"The Lincoln clash is a great game for the fans and we know there will be a fantastic atmosphere," he said.
"We're taking just short of 1,800 fans across and we just hope that we can get the same result as last season for them.
"Sometimes you go away from home and say it will be hostile, but with the amount of fans we're taking, we know what noise they'll make – like they did last season and at the moment they've got even more to shout about.
"I'm really look forward to it and we can't wait for it to start."
Following Friday's 1-0 triumph over Wrexham, Hurst and co-manager Rob Scott's men are top of the Blue Square Bet Premier and bursting with confidence.
"We go into it full of belief after that win," he confirmed. "Unless you take a heavy defeat, the confidence is still there – it just grows and grows.
"They'll be any danger of over-confidence, either, because we know what a big game this is – it's a derby and the atmosphere will be electric.
"Wrexham was a good game for us because we were never going to get distracted by the Lincoln clash.
"If we'd have been playing a team from the lower reaches, perhaps the mind would have been wandering for one or two of them.
"But they were very professional, as they have been all season."
With 23 league matches played, Town are at the midway point of their campaign ahead of today's derby.
Hurst took the opportunity to praise his squad's attitude ahead of a hectic week of Conference action.
He went on: "Some people are still questioning what we can do and what we can achieve, but we've gone up against most of the top teams in the league and come out with positive results.
"Friday was the first of four games that the fans will look at and think 'they're really big games.'
"But we said to the players that, because of the position we're in, they're all going to be big games and that's the mentality we've got to take into them.
"The time we think 'we can take this one a bit easier' is when we'll get found out.
"The players have worked hard and they know what we like as managers. Credit to them, they've bought into that and the work-rate they've put in and desire they show on a daily basis is fantastic.
"They only have to look at the league table to see their rewards for that.
"However, it's half a job – that's all it is. Things can change quickly as last year showed.
"We need to keep our feet on the ground but use where we are in the league as motivation and, as a group, keep demanding more from each other."
Centre-half Shaun Pearson, inset, could return to the Mariners' line-up for the derby clash after missing the Wrexham victory due to illness.
Either way, Hurst and Scott remain satisfied with their team's solidity this season.
"The record defensively, 12 clean sheets out of 23 in the league, is outstanding," the boss added.
"If we can keep that record going, it doesn't matter if you've got an out-and-out goalscorer or not. You give yourselves a great chance in every game.
"We hope Shaun's okay for Lincoln and it's just a bit of flu, as those are the symptoms. He apparently was dying one day and felt a lot better on Friday.
"He looked like death warmed up but that's just how he looks all the time, so we couldn't really tell!"