Stocksbridge Park Steels boss Chris Hilton has thrown down the gauntlet to his side to go on another unbeaten run when they play their first game of 2015 against strugglers Market Drayton Town at Bracken Moor this weekend.
Steels have not played since losing 3-2 at Sheffield FC on Boxing Day, which ended a run of four games without defeat. “It’s important we bounce back, go on another mini-run and get that momentum back we had before the defeat at Sheffield,” said Hilton. “The players know what’s expected of them, they let their standards drop against Sheffield.”
Hilton said their poor performance came out of the blue. “I didn’t see that coming. We had been playing reasonably well in the run up to Christmas but it seemed everyone just had an off day. We were awful for 60 minutes and if you play like that you’re not going to win. The big positive for us was that we played better in the second half and won it 1-0. Credit to Sheffield, they played very well and deserved to win. What we must do now is move on and put the result behind us with a win.”
Market Drayton arrive third from bottom of Division One South with just one away win in 12 games and nine points behind Steels in 17th. “There another team that’s down there, we’re at home we’ll be going for the win but what we must do is make sure we don’t lose the game.”
Hilton hinted that striker Brad Grayson could play a part in the game after being out for three weeks with a shoulder injury. “Brad’s back in full training. We’ll see how he is but it might be that he is only fit enough to be on the bench, we don’t want to rush him back.”
After seeing their two games over the New Year postponed, Sheffield FC kick-off 2015 with a trip to promotion chasing Spalding United. The Tulips are fourth in the table but have six games in hand on two of the teams above them including leaders Sutton Coldfield Town.
Club beat Spalding 4-3 at Dronfield in October when they led 4-1 with goals from Reece White, Tim Whittaker and a brace from leading scorer Ashley Longstaff before the visitors mounted a late fight back.
However, since that defeat Spalding have lost just once in 17 outings and have taken 22 points from 24, suggesting Jordan Broadbent’s side face a big ask to complete a league double.
Premier Division Frickley Athletic go in search of only a second away win of the season at Stamford boosted by a 2-1 home win over Blyth Spartans on Tuesday. While Buxton go to runaway leaders Skelmersdale United with Matlock Town at mid table Halesowen Town where the Gladiators aim to avoid a fourth defeat on the spin.
Premier Division: Halesowen Town v Matlock Town, Skelmersdale United v Buxton, Stamford v Frickley Athletic.
Division One South: Spalding United v Sheffield FC, Stocksbridge Park Steels v Market Drayton Town.