Stocksbridge Park Steels sweat over keeper as they face Stafford test

Stocksbridge goalkeeper Sam Andrew
Stocksbridge goalkeeper Sam Andrew
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Stocksbridge Park Steels face another of the Division One South promotion hopefuls in the space of five days when they host fifth placed Stafford Rangers at Bracken Moor, which comes hot on the heels of a 2-0 defeat to Gresley.

Steels go into the game 18th in the table with a six point cushion over the bottom two, and with games in hand on all the four teams below them.

“I think we need three or possibly four wins from our last 14 games and we’ll be safe,” said boss Chris Hilton.

“It’s important that we do that as quickly as possible so we can start looking further ahead. We knew that we needed to win against Goole [Steels won 2-1] last weekend because we had two tough games coming up. I thought we did okay against Gresley but we’ve switched off twice at a corner, then a free-kick, and got punished.

“That’s what happens when you play against the top teams in the division but there were a lot of positives to take out of the game.

“We know we will have to stay focused against Stafford; they’re a good side and will bring a decent following. It will be hard but we’ll be going for the win because we are at home, although a point would not be a bad result.”

Stocksbridge have a couple of injury niggles ahead of the game. Goalkeeper Sam Andrew has a thigh problem which prevented him kicking in the second half at Gresley, and Brad Grayson was taken off as a precaution after feeling his hamstring. On the plus side, recent new signing Richard Stirrup is expected to return following his two goal salvo against Goole after being unavailable in midweek.

Stafford beat Stocksbridge 4-0 earlier in the season and arrive on the back of four wins and two draws in their last six league outings.

Sheffield FC, meanwhile, go to next-to-bottom Rainworth Miners Welfare with boss Jordan Broadbent confident his team can push on in the final third of the season.

“We’ve got 17 games left now and only five of those are against teams at the top end of the table,” he said.

“Hopefully we can now put a good run together and gets some points on the board.”

Although Club have picked up just four points from the last three games Broadbent has been pleased with his team’s overall showing of late: “We’ve had three bright performances in the last three games two of which have come against sides pushing for promotion,” he said.

“But the players are now playing to the style of play and tempo we want and I think that’s reflected in recent performances.”

“We came from a goal down twice to draw 2-2 at Leek then showed real character to keep going and get a 1-0 win against Brigg last weekend.

“Then we’ve pushed what I feel is the best team in this division, Mickleover Sports, all the way and had them hanging on to a 3-2 win.

“I think what people must remember is that the team has been going through a bit of transition period and it has not helped with the amount of games we’ve had called off.

“But the players are now playing to the style of play and tempo we want and I think that’s reflected in recent performances.”

Sheffield will be chasing a league double at Rainworth following a 5-0 win at the Coach & Horses ground on August Bank Holiday Monday, when Matt Roney grabbed a hat-trick along with goals from Brandon Cardwell and James Gregory.

Zeph Thomas should be back after missing the game against Mickleover due to his partner giving birth, while Joel Purkiss is also expected to return to the squad after been unavailable in midweek.

In the Premier Division, Frickley Athletic travel to fourth-placed Ashton United in search of a first win in three. Buxton will look to get their play-off push back on track after back-to-back defeats by completing a league double over Whitby Town at the Silverlands, following a 1-0 win at the Turnbull Ground at the end of January.

Three wins on the spin has seen Matlock Town move out of the bottom four, so it will be a confident Gladiators side that go to relegation rivals Marine.

Fixtures, Saturday: Premier Division: Ashton United v Frickley Athletic, Buxton v Whitby Town, Marine v Matlock Town. Division One South: Rainworth MW v Sheffield FC, Stocksbridge v Stafford Rangers.