Stocksbridge Park Steels’ play-off hopes have received an unexpected boost following the news that play-off rivals Cleethorpes Town have been deducted 12 points for fielding an ineligible player - they failed to get approval from the FA for the loan of goalkeeper Richard Walton from Lincoln City.
It meant that Cleethorpes tumbled from fourth place down to 10th in Division One South where they are now three-points behind Steels who move up to eighth as a result.
Steels boss Chris Hilton though remained cautious about his side’s chances of finishing in the top six despite Cleethorpes’ misdemeanour. He said: “I still think they will make the play-offs. They have a couple of games in hand on us and between three and five games on the rest of the top eight with the exception of Alvechurch.
“We’ll focus on what we need to and not worry about others. It’s still in our hands; we have eight of the bottom teams still to play. Its going to be a tall order and if I’m honest I think we’ll fall short. That doesn’t mean for a minute we’ll give up until it’s mathematically impossible, we’ll keep scrapping and see where it takes us.
“The games against Spalding on Saturday then Market Drayton Town next week will determine what we will do.”
Hilton is still looking to add to his squad ahead of what will be a busy run-in with Steels still having 16 games left to play. “We’re looking at all areas really but I think we need another forward,” he said. “We have a few irons in the fire, only last week we thought we might have got a couple in on loan only to be let down.”
With forward Scott Ruthven unavailable for Spalding, Brodie Litchfield could be recalled to the starting line-up after coming off the bench to score a sensational late goal in the 2-1 home victory against Romulus.
Sheffield FC have a blank weekend with the next fixture on Tuesday when they host Spalding United.
“It will give the players a stress-free week so hopefully they’ll come out firing on all cylinders on Tuesday, said boss Mark Shaw.
“We’ve got some good players they just need a bit of time and not the pressure of being in a relegation battle.”
Club will be looking for their first home win since defeating Newcastle Town 4-3 in early November having since drawn two and lost two on home soil.
Promotion-chasing Frickley Athletic go to Peterborough Sports aiming to stretch their winning streak into double figures. Spencer Fearn’s in-form side have won the last nine league games as well as progress in the Sheffield Senior Cup. Now they face a Peterborough side that has lost three and won two of the last six league outings and have slipped down the table to 18th, two-points outside the drop zone after making a bright start to the season.
In the Premier Division Shaw Lane will look to boost their promotion hopes with a win against relegation battling Marine at Sheerien Park. Third placed Ducks are looking for a first win in three games .
Premier Division: Buxton v Altrincham, Nantwich Town v Matlock Town , Shaw Lane v Marine.
Division One South: Peterborough Sports v Frickley Athletic, Spalding United v Stocksbridge Park Steels