Non-league: No pressure on Stocksbridge as rampant leaders come to town

On form Stocksbridge striker Scott Ruthven
On form Stocksbridge striker Scott Ruthven
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Chris Hilton says the pressure will be off his Stocksbridge Park Steels side when they welcome runaway league leaders Stafford Rangers to Bracken Moor.

The Steels boss is confident his side can become only the fifth side to beat Rangers this term as long as they play without fear.

“We certainly don’t have anything to fear,” Hilton said, “There’s no pressure on us, they’ll come here expecting to win.

“I think we’ll get a result against them. Maybe that’s just me being over confident. I’m not sure, we’ll have to wait and see.

“We’ve done all right against the top teams this season.

“Scott Ruthven and Joe Lumsden are scoring goals and work well as a pair. But it’s not just the dront two, the midfield are chipping in too.

“Rory Coleman’s two goals last week took him into double figures. We’re also much tighter at the back which is an area we’ve worked on this season.

“We’ll try and make sure we stay compact and not give anything away particularly in the first 20 minutes.

“If we can get our noses in front we know we’re capable of holding onto the lead.

“We know their strengths, weaknesses and the areas we think we can exploit them. We’ll certainly look to ask a few questions of them.”

Stocksbridge kept their outside play-off alive with a convincing 3-0 win in their last outing against nine-man Gresley.

Hilton was delighted with the win and felt the two dismissals had little impact on the outcome.

He said: “We were well on top and leading 1-0 before the first sending off. They were not happy about the second red card, though I’m not sure.

“Their player has pushed the ball away with his hand as Joe was about to shoot. It’s a blatant red.

“I thought we deserved the 3-0 scoreline and could have had more. It’s a good win and three points, and I was delighted with the clean sheet.”

Steels are seven points outside the top five but have not given up on a play-off place,

Hilton said: “I think it’s going to be difficult, if I’m being honest.

“But while ever it’s there, we’ll go for it.”

Stafford arrive at Bracken Moor 13 points clear at the top with just four defeats from 34 league outings and have won the last four away games.

Sheffield FC face the first of two tough games in the space of four days with a trip to play-off chasing Leek Town tomorrow followed by the visit of Shaw Lane Aquaforce to Dronfield on Tuesday.

Manager James Colliver said: “They’re certainly two very testing games. But if we some the same commitment and work ethic that we did in the win against Gresley, then I will be more than happy, even if we don’t get a result.

“It’s still early days for everyone. Saturday will be only my second game in charge.

“The lads are really enjoying training and have a smile on their faces and I have to say there has been very positive response from everyone.”

Colliver admitted his disappointment over seeing last weekend’s home tie with Kidsgrove Athletic postponed.

“It was frustrating because ideally we would have like to had gone into the game at Leek on the back of a couple of wins and kept the momentum going we gained from the win against Gresley but it wasn’t to be.

“We had a game behind closed doors on Monday which was a good work out and allowed us to have a look at a few triallists and some of the U21s.

“We’ve got 11 games left now so we’ll be looking to go out and upst a few teams starting at Leek Town.”

Colliver has brough in forward Sam Finlaw from Mickleover Sports who could start on the bench while striker Brian Cusworth is unavailable.

Before visiting Sheffield on Tuesday, Shaw Lane Aquaforce will look to keep their outside title hopes alive with a win at play-off chasing Chasetown.a