With the New Year’s Day home clash against Carlton Town postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, the grey cloud that hung over Dronfield had a silver lining for Sheffield FC boss Ian Whitehorne.
He will welcome the return of Steve Woolley, Jack Waddle and leading scorer Zeph Thomas with open arms for tomorrow’s trip to Market Drayton Town.
The trio would have missed the Carlton game but the extra recovery period means all three are likely to start at Market Drayton and that will give Club’s flagging play-off push a welcome boost.
Waddle has been out with a gashed ankle, and Thomas has been struggling with a groin injury. Woolley returns to the fold after missing the last three games due to personal reasons.
“It’s good to have them back, the extra rest period has made all the difference in Jack’s and Zeph’s case,” said Whitehorne.
“We have had a patched-up side over the past few games where we have had to throw three U19 players in. But I can’t fault them, they have done really well, particularly Conner Shirley who certainly looks an excellent prospect.”
Sheffield lost both games over Christmas, at Belper 2-0 and Chasetown 4-3, but Whitehorne feels they were unlucky to come away empty -handed.
“I thought we should have got something out of the last two games” he said. “At Belper they scored a fantastic goal in the last few minutes then caught us pushing forward in stoppage time. We should have been out of sight before then. We’ve hit the post and bar, and missed several good chances.
“Then at Chasetown we’re 4-1 down and could have crumbed, but we came back, scored two goals and hit the bar in the last minute.
“Zeph’s been scoring been scoring in nearly every game we have played. When he is out it’s a big miss for us and I think if he had played in the last two games we would have got something from them.”
During December Sheffield saw their play-off hopes stutter after losing three and winning just one of their four outings. Whitehorne said: “The results have been poor but our performances have been really good. We need to carry that into the game at Market Drayton and hope we come away with the points we deserve for a change.”
Market Drayton go into the game having eased their relegation fears with a first win in five after beating struggling Kidsgrove Athletic 2-1 at home to pull seven points clear of the drop zone.
Stocksbridge Park Steels go to fellow strugglers Stafford Rangers, knowing they have to come away with all three points if they are to keep alive their faint hopes of avoiding relegation from the Premier Division.
Steels lost 3-0 at Blyth on New Year’s Day, a result that left them 11 points shy of the safety line, while second bottom Rangers already looked doomed to the drop, 17 points from safety.
Promotion-chasing Worksop Town will look to bounce back from their first defeat in 13 games when they go to play-off-chasing AFC Fylde with a point to prove. When the teams met at Sandy Lane earlier in the season Fylde romped to a 6-1 win but they have lost the last five owhich has seen them slip out of the top five.
Frickley Athletic go to mid-table Marine looking to extend their unbeaten run to nine games. Matlock Town entertain Blyth Spartans as they aim to make it two home wins in four days, while Buxton take on Rushall Olympic at Silverlands with both teams looking to revive their play-off hopes.