By: Paul Webster
Stocksbridge Park Steels boss Chris Hilton wants to use the FA Trophy run as a springboard to climb back up the table as they prepare to take on troubled Northwich Victoria at Bracken Moor.
Steels reached the first round for the second successive season before going out 3-1 at National League North side Nuneaton Town last weekend.
“We told the players afterwards they should feel disappointed to have gone out, “ said Hilton. “But also that they need to be proud of what they have achieved. Its two years in a row we’ve got to the first round knocking out some good teams from higher leagues showing that we’re capable of beating anyone.
“What we need to do now is take that into the league, push on and build some momentum.
We’ve fell behind with our league games due to the cup run and slipped down the table a little but we’ve now just got the league to concentrate.
“Its a busy period for us between now and over the festive period with six games. We’ll aim to win all six if we can or at least make sure we’re unbeaten and get back heading towards the play-off.
“It wont be easy but we have now have a bigger and better squad than last season. You only have to look at our neighbours over at Sheffield and see what happens when you put a run together.”
Reflecting on the trophy exit Hilton said. “I thought we did okay in the first half. Had we gone in at 1-0 up we would have had something to hold onto. The equaliser on the stroke of half-time was a blow to us.
“If I’m honest once they got their nose’s in front there was only going to be one winner. What was perhaps a little disappointing was that we didn’t really throw the kitchen sink at them but we didn’t have Joe (Lusmden) and Brodie (Litchfield) so it was always going to be difficult.”
Northwich, who appointed an administrator on December 1, arrive having parted company manager Adam Lakeland whom resigned earlier in the week due to the present constraints placed on the club.
Despite the visitors troubles Hilton said; “They’ll be no pushovers. We lost 3-0 at their place earlier season after we’d dominated the first 45 minutes but just didn’t put the ball in the net and got punished in the second half so we know they’ll pose a threat. if we set-up right knuckle down and work hard hopefully we’ll come away with the points.”
Hilton is boosted by the return of leading scorer Joe Lumsden from suspension and fellow striker Brodie Litchfield who is available again after being cup tied.