By Paul Webster
Stocksbridge Park Steels play-off hopes have received an unexpected boost ahead of the trip to Spalding United following the news that play-off rivals Cleethorpes Town have been deducted 12-points for fielding an ineligible player after failing to get approval from the FA for the loan move of goalkeeper Richard Walton from Lincoln City.
It meant that Cleethorpes tumbled from fourth place down to 10th in Division One South where they are now three-points behind Steels who move up to eighth as a result.
Stocksbridge boss Chris Hilton though remained optimistically cautious about his sides chances of finishing in the top six despite Cleethorpes misdemeanour said: “I still think they (Cleethorpes) will make the play-offs. They have a couple of games in hand on us and between three and five games on the rest of the top eight with the exception of Alvechurch..
“We’ll focus on what we need to and not worry about others. Its still in our hands we have eight of the bottom teams still to play.
“Its going to be a tall order and if I’m being honest I think we’ll fall short. That doesn’t mean for a minute we’ll give up until its mathematically impossible, we’ll keep going and scrapping for as many points as we can and see where it takes us.
“I think the next two games against Spalding on Saturday then Market Drayton Town next week will determine what we will do.”
Hilton is still looking to add to his squad ahead of what will be a busy run-in with Steels still having 16 games left to play. “We’re looking at all areas really but I think we need another forward,” he said. “ We have a few irons in the fire, only last week we thought we might have got a couple in on loan only to be let down. That’s just the way things go at times.“
With forward Scott Ruthven unavailable for the trip to Spalding, Brodie Litchfield could be recalled to the starting line-up after coming off the bench to score a sensational late goal in the 2-1 home victory against Romulus in the last outing.
Spalding - 13th in the table - have won just two and drawn one of the last 12 league outings with both the victories coming at home against Peterborough Sports and Newcastle Town at the end of December as Stocksbridge seek to avenge a 2-0 defeat at Bracken Moor on the opening day of the season.