SILSDEN may only sit 13th in the NCEL Premier Division heading into a tricky pair of away games, but manager Danny Forrest is feeling optimistic.

The Cobbydalers have hit 50 goals in just 22 league games this season, striker Jack Normanton is the top scorer in the division, and in an incredibly tight mid-table, they are just six points behind fifth-placed Penistone Church.

Forrest mused: “There’s a lot of football still to be played.

“If we’d beaten Hemsworth on New Year’s Day, we’d have gone up to fifth, so I’m not too disappointed with where we are.

“I’m more optimistic, and actually pleased with how we’re doing, as we’ve still got a great chance of challenging at the upper end of the league.

“We were on a bad run in autumn, but we’re shaping up well now and we’re competitive, so it’s just about us carrying on this form.”

And there is little pressure on Silsden at the moment, with only the top two able to go up, and Grimsby Borough and Eccleshill United miles clear of anyone else currently.

Forrest said: “Top two is unrealistic for us now, so we’re just trying to finish as high as we can.

“It’s always nice to try and beat the previous season (Silsden were 10th when the 2019/20 campaign was curtailed in March 2020), so a top half finish would be good, and then hopefully we can push on from there.

“There are some good teams in this league though, and you have to expect the unexpected.

“Sometimes we’ve had a great week in training, then the game hasn’t gone as well as we thought it would, but that’s happened vice versa too.”

And when Silsden have had a good game this season, Normanton is usually at the forefront.

The prolific striker has hit 18 league goals so far this term, and ended 2021 with three successive hat-tricks.

Forrest said: “We pushed for signings at the top end of the pitch over the summer and thought we had a good blend.

“It’s not worked out with a couple (Joe Jagger and Mo Qasim have left for Emley and Albion Sports respectively), but the best we’ve played all season is with the blend we have now.

“Jack is spearheading that, but Brad Riley, Jos Bradshaw and Khurram Shazad are doing all they can too.

“There’s a lot of togetherness and unselfishness up there, and they all work and play for each other.

“With Jack, he’s reaped the rewards of late, but he’s earned that with his work ethic.

“He’s got star quality at this level, and I can’t praise him enough.”

Normanton’s goals could be key if Silsden are to win at Sherwood Colliery this weekend, their first game since New Year’s Day after their home clash with Goole last Saturday was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

Forrest said: “With Sherwood having come from another league ahead of this season, you do speak to other managers to find out what they’re like.

“We’ll keep an eye out for videos on social media too, to see if we can get an idea of how they play.

“We play Sherwood this weekend, who are third, and then go to Grimsby, who are top, the following Saturday.

“Those games will give us a great idea of where we’re at, but as long as we perform like we have in the last few weeks, we can give anyone a game.”