Moment of truth for Sheffield FC as season draws to a climax
Sheffield FC face a massive game this weekend at third-placed Brighouse Town.
Even though a point would rubber stamp Club’s place in the end of season play-offs, under the re-structuring of the Non-League pyramid, only five teams from seven at Step Four level with the best points per game ratio will gain promotion via the play-offs, meaning two will not be promoted even if they win their respective play-off final.
So as things stand Sheffield will need to win at Brighouse in order to gain promotion if they go on and win the East Division play-off.
“At least we know what we have to do, and that is going to Brighouse and win,” said Sheffield boss Gavin Smith. “It’s in our own hands but it’s going to be tough. We’ll be going all out to win, a draw is no good to us because we don’t want is to be in the farcical position of being in the play-offs knowing we can’t win promotion. Brighouse have already qualified for the play-offs so hopefully they will rest a few players. Whatever happens it’s been a great season - we’ve come a long way.”
Smith will be looking for a response after taking just one point over Easter. “We deserved to get beat at Pontefract,” he admitted. “You can’t give teams a three-goal lead at half time and expect to win, although we did much better in the second half hitting the woodwork twice and having one cleared off the line. It was scrappy against Belper on Monday. We had the chance to win but neither team did enough.” Sheffield will be without midfielder Jamie Yates (achilles) and defender Ben Turner (hamstring).
Stocksbridge Park Steels take on play-off bound Ossett United at Bracken Moor in what boss Chris Hilton says is a game they can express themselves with the pressure off.
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“We’ve proved the doubters wrong,” said Hilton. “If you look where we are now you would never had thought we had been in a relegation battle. We’ve finished strongly winning five and drawing one of the last eight. The players have been fantastic and show a real togetherness, now they can go out and enjoy the last game. We’ll still be giving it a right go because we want to try and finish the season on a winning note.”
Jordan Lemon and skipper Liam McFadyen should be available after missing the defeat at Frickley on East Monday, only Steels second reversal in the last eight games. But Kurtis Turner is doubtful after suffering concussion and may not be risked.
Frickley Athletic visit AFC Mansfield in what will be the hosts final game in the Evo-Stik League. It comes after the club failed to meet ground grading criteria and will now drop back to Step 5 level despite being 12-points clear of the drop zone.
Premier Division: Buxton v Warrington Town, Stafford Rangers v Matlock Town.
East Division: AFC Mansfield v Frickley Athletic, Brighouse Town v Sheffield FC, Stocksbridge Park Steels v Ossett United.