By Paul Webster
Stocksbridge Park Steels will go in search of a third win in eight days when they they take on third-placed Spalding United at Bracken Moor.
Manager Chris Hilton had conceded their play-off hopes were over. But wins at Lougborough Dynamo, 3-2 last weekend and then 2-1 at home against Belper Town on Tuesday evening has raised hopes that Steels can still sneak into the top five.
“We’ve got four tough games starting with Spalding that will determine where we finish,” said Hilton. “We’ve got a local derby at Sheffield next Tuesday then trips to Lincoln United and AFC Rushden who are both chasing a top five spot so its going to be tough. We don’t mind playing the top teams we have a good record against them this season its the teams lower down the table we seemed to have struggled against.
“We’ve given ourselves a bit of a chance but that’s all it is. There are three other teams ahead of us, Lincoln, Leek and Rushden that that are all chasing down Basford who look a little vulnerable in that fifth spot having played more games.”
Hilton was happy to had come away with maximum points from the last two games but admitted performance wise they had not been at their best.
“We’ve not played to the standards we set ourselves over the past week. But at this stage of the season its about grinding out results and that’s what we’ve done which is pleasing.
We had more of the ball and chances against Belper but if I’m being honest I thought a draw against Belper would have been a fair result. It was bit of excellence from sissors (Richard Stirrup) was the difference.
“There has been games when we haven’t had what we deserve so over the season these things hopefully balance themselves out.
We know we’ll need to be better against Spalding, its a game we need to win. I’m sure they will they will be happy with a draw as it means we wont have closed the gap on them. We’ve changed our shape a little in the last couple of games which has allowed us to score a few more goals.
We may look at how we set-up against Spalding, its something I’ll consider before the weekend depending on fitness of players. We’ll go out relax and enjoy our football”
Brodie Litchfield has a swollen ankle but should be fit, while Josh Meade could return to the starting elven having shaken off a shoulder injury. Adam Hinchliffe (pictured) is also expected to be back in the squad to after missing the midweek victory through injury.