Non-league: Stocksbridge Park Steels to rest players ahead of play-off push

Richard Stirrup will return for Stocksbridge this weekend
Richard Stirrup will return for Stocksbridge this weekend

Stocksbridge Park Steels boss Chris Hilton will rest a number of players for his side’s final league game in preparation for the Evo-Stik Division One South play-offs.

Steels head to Spalding United on Tuesday in the play-off semi-finals and Hilton wants his team to be in the best possible shape.

A place in the play-offs was secured with a 2-1 win at Chasetown on Easter Monday, their eighth consecutive victory.

And they close the regular season by welcoming Bedworth United to Bracken Moor on Saturday.

“We need to give ourselves the best possible opportunity to perform on Tuesday night so we’ll be resting a few of the players on Saturday,” Hilton said.

“We’ve only got a small squad so we have to manage that the best we can.

“We’ve had a lot of big games over the past few weeks to get us into this position.

“The lads have been magnificent but we’ve picked up a few knocks and need to take one or two players out to give them a rest.

“We want to make it nine wins on the spin if we can but we have to look at the bigger picture.

“That said, we certainly won’t be turning out a reserve team.

“There will still be plenty of players in there with Evo-Stik experience.

“Richard Stirrup and Adam Hinchliffe for instance need 90 minutes after missing games recently.

“It will also give players on the fringe of the squad that haven’t had too many opportunities a chance to show what they can do.”

Hilton is understandably delighted with the progress made by Steels this season, particularly achieving their pre-season target of a top five finish.

He said: “You can’t argue with the stats.

“We’ve got more points than last season, conceded fewer goals and the only downside is we’ve not quite scored as many, although we’ve probably created far more chances.

“I’m very happy with the progress we’ve made.

“When we came in, we set a three-year target for where we wanted to be.

“This is our second full year and we’ve hit out target this season.

“There is still work to be done but we’re making excellent progress.”

Sheffield FC end their campaign with a trip to second-placed Witton Albion.

The fixture had some of the gloss take off earlier in the week after Witton were handed a three point penalty for fielding and ineligible player against Stocksbridge in February.

This handed the title to Shaw Lane AFC, ensuring the fate of the championship would not go down to the final game.

Sheffield are hunting for only their second win in 13 matches and first on the road since beating Newcastle Town 1-0 at the end of January.