IT may be monstrously difficult for the Premier League lesser lights to compete with the divisional big boys – but it is not much easier down the footballing pyramid in the Evo-Stik First Division North either.
Anyone seeking further proof should just speak to Ossett Town manager John Reed, who for the second successive season is competing in a division where money invariably talks.
The Ingfield outfit host one of the division’s well-heeled sides in third-placed visitors Scarborough Athletic tonight, mindful that only a repeat of last season’s superb 3-1 home victory over the east coast side will yield them any joy.
Yet despite Ossett’s lack of financial wherewithal compared to a number of rivals, Reed remains philosophical about the challenge ahead for his side – and has his sights on the longer-term picture.
He said: “Whether people like this statement or not, there’s two divisions in our league – the top 12 and bottom 12 and we are in the bottom 12 teams.
“We all know what economics mean. If you have a good budget, you will be a Northwich, Spennymoor or a Scarborough.
“Scarborough are a fantastic team. They have made eight signings and all of them are from Conference North, so what does that tell you.
“For us to beat anyone in the top 10, we have got to play out of our skins and they have got to have an off-day.
“We beat them last season at home and it was our best performance of the season, so we have to do that again to have a chance of winning.
“But we have some good young talent and if we can keep them together, then in a couple of years time, we will be a top-eight team if we can also get a little bit better on the budget side.”
Competing in the division may be an onerous task for the Ossett’s of this world, but despite not being blessed with the advantages that many other sides enjoy at this level, Reed remains reasonably satisfied by his side’s start to the campaign, despite their current position just below mid-table 13th.
Reed, assisted by coaches Dave Merris and John Francis, said: “It has gone pretty much to what we expected, so far.
“In every game we have lost, except in the FA Cup when we were absolutely dreadful, we have competed and lost to sides who will be in the top six.
“The one disappointment for me was when we lost the Ossett derby when we were the better team and even their manager said that.
“But overall, I am reasonably pleased.
“We don’t hide things and we have a very, very limited budget. But while we lost heavily to Northwich and Spennymoor, both games could have been so different.
“But it is just the quality that money gets you and with quality players, you don’t do things wrong in both 18-yard boxes and quite frankly, that was it in both those games.
“When we were making mistakes in our penalty area, they were putting it in the back of the net, while when we got chances, we didn’t put them in.
“After five games, we have six points. It’s exactly where we expected to be.
“It’s a great league. Although when we recently lost 5-1 to Spennymoor, people said to me: ‘I don’t know why you do it when you get beat like that.’
“But I have coached and managed for 38 years and I say to them that you have to be in the league to realise what a fantastic league it is.
“It’s a brilliant league although it gets stronger and stronger, and to be part of that is a privilege.”
Frickley Athletic are eyeing six of the best at home to Ilkeston in the Evo-Stik Premier Division tonight.
Karl Rose’s buoyant Blues are unbeaten in five games and nicely positioned in eighth spot, as they seek to extend their run without defeat to six games.
Brad Docherty is back in the fray this evening, but Luke Hornsey is set for an extended spell out, while Luke Jeffs, awaiting the birth of his child, may also be unavailable.
Farsley Celtic, who claimed a gritty point at Bamber Bridge at the weekend, visit Glossop North End, while Ossett Albion have a toughie at Spennymoor.
Goole AFC welcome Basford United in First Division South.
In the Toolstation NCEL Premier, Billy Miller’s Tadcaster Albion, who netted a last-gasp leveller on Saturday, can move four points clear with victory at Armthorpe tonight.
Garforth Town head to Barton Town Old Boys in high spirits, with Mark Simpson taking his seasonal tally to seven goals with two in the 4-1 FA Vase win over Albion Sports.
Unbeaten in five matches, Hemsworth MW – whose striker Dom Blair has netted four times in his last two games – host Westella VIP, while Glasshoughton, who have shipped nine goals in their last two matches, visit Hull United.
Selby will be hoping to avoid a case of After the Lord Mayor’s Show at home to Teversal after their 12-1 FA Vase routing of Askern when Kingsley Wetherald struck six times.
Thackley visit Whickham in an FA Vase replay.