Sheffield FC and Stocksbridge Park Steels have differing agendas for the second half of the season.
Sheffield climbed into the play-off places after Marc Newsham came off the bench to score twice in the last seven minutes to give Club a 2-1 victory in the New Year’s Day derby after Steels had led through Alex Wiles strike at the break.
However, for Stocksbridge it meant they slipped to the foot of the East Division table despite having ended 2018 with a 2-0 win over Frickley Athletic on Boxing Day.
Sheffield will now hope to push on in the second half of the campaign starting with a trip to Ossett United this weekend, while Stocksbridge face a ‘six-pointer’ at Wisbech Town.
“We’ve had a really good Christmas period”, said Club boss Gavin Smith. “We won well at Pickering Town which was followed by a battling draw at Belper, then we topped it off by beating Stocksbridge. I thought if we could be around seventh-place come the turn of the year it would have been great, so to be fifth is even better than we thought considering the poor start we made.
“We’ve got belief in ourselves that we’re not a bad team and have that mentality to keep going until the end when our fitness levels are kicking in late.
“We now have to make sure that we kick on and see where we can finish, we’ve got a tough game at Ossett this weekend. We know they are a very big strong side with some experienced players. After that, we’ve got a run of five home games so we’ll be looking to make the most of those and hopefully take maximum points.”
Smith was delighted with win over their neighbours which gained revenge for a 3-2 defeat at Bracken Moor earlier in the season, but admitted it wasn’t their best performance.
“The first half we didn’t play well at all. Stocksbridge looked alright and passed it around well and deserved the lead. The second half though we had them pinned back. I took a bit of a gamble leaving Newy (Marc Newsham) on the bench as he had taken a battering in the last few games.
He came on for the last 25 minutes and scored two great headers so it was a gamble that paid off.”
Sheffield will be aiming to complete a league double after beating Ossett United 3-0 at Dronfield in early November.
Stocksbridge know that a win at fellow strugglers Wisbech Town will take them off the foot of the table where just three-points blanket the bottom six teams.
Steels, who beat Wisbech 1-0 at the beginning of November when Ben Rhodes hit a stoppage time winner, are just two points behind the fourth bottom hosts.
Wisbech won 2-1 at Spalding United on Tuesday and with AFC Mansfield also winning 3-1 at Lincoln United, the two results that combined with Stocksbridge’s defeat at Sheffield sent Chris Hilton’s side to the bottom of the table.
“I thought with 15 minutes to go we we’re looking at back-to-back wins, then suddenly it all changes and we’re bottom of the table said,” Hilton.
“We should had finished the game off before but in fairness I couldn’t have asked any more from my players. We’re just not finishing teams off, we’re not scoring enough goals but hopefully that will change as we are hoping to have a new striker signed in time for Saturday’s trip to Wisbech.
We know Its a big game, but in our position they’re all big games. Its very tight at the bottom and I believe we are much better than where we are at the moment but its about getting results.”
Frickley Athletic go to leaders Morpeth Town looking for a first win in four games.
Premier Division: Buxton v Whitby Town, Lancaster City v Matlock Town.
East Division: Morpeth Town v Frickley Athletic, Ossett United v Sheffield FC, Wisbech Town v Stocksbridge Park Steels.