I’m proud Stocksbridge Park Steels kept faith in me, says manager Chris Hilton
In what is the penultimate weekend of the regular season, Stocksbridge Park Steels take on Lincoln United at Bracken Moor before making the trip to Frickley Athletic on East Monday.
Having mathematically secured safety with a draw at Carlton Town that made it 13 points from the last 18 available, Steels want to finish the season on a positive note and are eyeing up three-points against a Lincoln side just one place and four-points above Chris Hilton’s side currently sitting in 14th.
“Its been a very testing season and most difficult of my management career” said Hilton. “I‘m delighted that Stocksbridge stuck by me and put their faith in me when others might not have done. So you can imagine how pleased I am that I’ve been able to repay the faith they’ve shown by keeping this fantastic club up and it deserves to be in the Evo-Stik League.
“I’m also proud of how the lads have turned it around over the past three weeks. Four wins a draw and one loss in the last six games, I’m over the moon with that. We’ve now got three games left, two of which are over the Easter period against Lincoln then at Frickley on Monday. We’ll look to try and get four-points.”
Now that Steels are safe Hilton could throw in one or two youngsters. “We don’t want to lose any of the last three games. But you have to look at it long term and give some of the younger players and those on the fringe of the squad some game time and the chance to show what they can do.”
Lincoln arrive having lost five and won two of the last seven league outings and looking to complete a league double of Steels after a late penalty gave them a 2-1 victory in the reverse fixture at the beginning of September.
Sheffield FC travel to play-off bound Ponterfact Collieries looking for the three-points that could secure their place in the top five. Club have a six-point cushion over Tadcaster Albion but mathematically still require four-points from the remaining three games to confirm their place in the end of season play-off lottery.
It goes without saying of course that a win against Pontefract and the unlikely event of Tadcaster falling to take maximum points at home against relegated Gresley FC would be enough to see Club over the line.
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“It was a massive result for us last time out and a deserved win beating Cleethopes Town as it put them out of the play-off picture,” said Club boss Gavin Smith.
“I was hoping for Frickley to do us a favour but Tadcaster are a very good side so I wasn’t surprised that they won. We move on and look forward to what is another big game on Saturday against Pontefract who are second at the moment. We then have Belper at home on Bank Holiday Monday so hopefully by Monday evening we will have cemented out play-off position.”
Sheffield will be aiming to complete a league over Collieries following a 5-3 victory at the Coach & Horses Ground in the reverse fixture at the beginning of September.
Certainly, one less thing for Club to worry about is that the Division’s current top scorer 22-goal Eli Hey is out with injury,
Premier Division: Bamber Bridge v Matlock Town, Buxton v Workington.
East Division: Loughborough Dynamo v Frickley Athletic, Pontefract Collieries v Sheffield FC, Stocksbridge PS v Lincoln Utd.