By Paul Webster
Stocksbridge Park Steels have put the play-offs in their own hands after a magnificent run of six straight wins.
Steels won 2-0 at promotion rivals AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Tuesday evening to leapfrog the hosts in to fifth and the last play-off spot. They now have three games left starting with tomorrow clash against Market Drayton Town knowing maximum points from the remaining fixtures would see them finish as high as fourth irrespective of results elsewhere.
Manager Chris Hilton is airing on the cautious side insisting the job is not finished yet.
“These are exciting times for everyone at the club but we’ve got to finish the job off now,” said Hilton.
“I’m absolutely over the moon with the lads, I couldn’t have asked for anymore. We’ve won six on the bounce and seven out of the last eight and we’ve done that against some of the top teams in the division. The players have shown just how much they want this and what it means to them to get this club into the play-offs.
“I always said we would keep going and see what happens. We’ve now got three big games left. Its been our achilles heel playing teams that are lower down the division so we’re taking nothing for granted.
“We’ve got to go out against Market Drayton and make sure we start on the front foot and play with a high tempo and get our noses in front. We’ve then got a tough game at Chaestown on Monday which is never an easy place to go. Two of our last three games are at home so we couldn’t ask for more now its up to us to see the job through.
“We’re just looking at getting into the play-offs first before we start thinking to far ahead and the ifs and buts of who we might be playing, lets just make sure we get there first.”
Hilton was delighted with the performance against Rushden and another clean sheet and thought it was no more than his side had deserved. “It certainly wasn’t a smash and grab we went there to do a job and get a result. We go out and do what we we do best. We got on the front foot in the first half with the chances we created we could had been 4-0 up at half-time.
“They put us under bit of pressure in the second half, you’ve got to expect that. But we’ve done out job and defended properly looked solid. To have kept clean sheets against teams like Spalding, Lincoln and now Rushden is excellent.”
Brodie Litchfield should have shaken off a knock to the knee. But Richard Stirrup will miss the next two games while Adam Hinchliffe is still out but could be back for Monday.
Market Drayton arrive having beaten play-off chasing Newcastle Town 3-2 at home on Tuesday but have lost seven of the last eight away.