Stocksbridge Park Steels’ play-off hopes were dented by a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Gresley FC in their final game of 2016.
Victory would have put Steels to within a couple of points of the coveted top five ahead of today’s local derby at neighbours Sheffield FC, whose home game with leaders Shaw Lane AFC was postponed due to a Frozen pitch.
“It was a very disappointing result,” admitted manager Chris Hilton. “We switched off and they got their goal. After that I thought we dominated the game, especially in second half. They had a couple of breaks, but nothing that troubled us
“I think we must have had 80 per cent of the play in the second half but if you don’t score goals it means nothing.
“We didn’t take our chances and if you don’t do that then you don’t win games of football. It’s not the result we were hoping for, but there is still a lot of football to play. We just have to knuckle down and get on with it now.”
Matt Melbourne scored Gresley’s winner, and Steels’ David Reay saved Leandro Browne’s tame penalty.
Scott Ruthven and Harrison Biggins both squandered good chances, before Joe Lumsden almost rescued a point in the last minute. Steels will hope to bounce back at local rivals Sheffield FC this afternoon (3pm) but face a Club side in excellent form.
Manager James Colliver has turned Sheffield’s fortunes around after a sticky start to the season, and his side go into the derby unbeaten in 14 outings in all competitions.
Club will start the game in sixth place, five points better off than Steels in 12th - although the the Bracken Moor club do have four games in hand.
“It promises be a good game between two strong sides,” said Hilton.
“Sheffield are flying at the moment. I think we’re better than we are and we’ll be going there and trying to win the game and start an unbeaten run.”
Stocksbridge won the reverse fixture 2-1 at Bracken Moor at the end of August with goals from Liam McFadyen and Biggins, after Brian Cusworth had put Club in front.
But of the starting eleven that day, only goalkeeper Chris Butt, Matt Roney, Pat Lindley and captain Lee Cooksey started in Club’s 1-1 draw at Belper Town on Boxing Day.
Meanwhile, midfielder Sam Finlaw, who was injured at Belper, has undergone surgery that will rule him out for the foreseeable future.
n Fixtures, today (3pm): Evo Stik League: Premier Division: Buxton v Mickleover Sports, Frickley Athletic v Whitby Town, Ilkeston FC v Matlock Town.
Division One South: Northwich Victoria v Shaw Lane AFC, Sheffield FC v Stocksbridge Park Steels.
NCEL Premier Division: AFC Mansfield v Handsworth Parramore, Armthorpe Welfare v Retford United, Parkgate v Garforth Town, Worksop Town v Clipstone.
Division One: AFC Emley v Nostell MW, Campion v Worsbrough BA, Dronfield Town v Glasshoughton Welfare, Penistone Church v Eccleshill United, Pontefract Collieries v Hallam, Rossington Main v Shirebrook Town.