Stocksbridge Park Steels host another of the play-off rivals tomorrow when they welcome Belper Town.
Boss Chris Hilton feels that January could well be a pivotal month in their bid for a top five finish and a place in the play-offs.
“We always said January was a big month for us with the teams we’ve got to play” said Hilton. “Time is ticking now, we know we need to pick up say between eight and ten points a month if we’re want to finish in the play-offs. There are a lot of teams in contention and anyone that puts a good run together should finish in the top five, we have to make sure that’s us. We’ve just completed a league double over a Newcastle side that were third in the table so it’s important we push on.”
Hilton was happy with the 1-0 win against play off rivals Newcastle in game they dominated but felt there are areas they still need to work on.
“The football we played was a couple of leagues higher. We moved the ball quickly and they never got near us, we should had been out of sight by half-time. The players were excellent, every single one of them were on the money. But there is always room for improvement.
“The front three were excellent, the only thing that was missing was they just didn’t get the goals. The midfield commanded the game and I thought the defence kept their concentration which is not easy when your having so much of the attacking play. But I’ll take 1-0.”
The two teams are separated by just a single point with Steels in 10th and the Nailers just one place below having played two games more.
Brodie Litchfield misses out through suspension following his red card after the young striker rash late challenge against Newcastle.
Sheffield FC look to get back on the winning track when they visit mid-table Bedworth United following back-to-back defeats. Club suffered their first loss in 15 games last weekend after going down 1-0 at Leek Town then were knocked out of the League Cup on Tuesday at Newcastle Town.
Manager James Colliver warned: “Winning becomes a habit but so does losing. We’ve got to go to Bedworth and pick ourselves up and make sure we come away with a positive result. It will be a tough game on the 3G pitch. But we’ve showed during our unbeaten run that we can compete with the top teams. We need to go on another unbeaten run.”
The Sheffield boss felt his team could have snatched a draw at Leek. “Our performance particularly in the second half deserved a point. We’ve had a perfectly good goal ruled out and we come away talking about the match official instead of two top teams going toe to toe. We can’t use that as an excuse though, we had a great chance in stoppage time that we didn’t take. Leek were the best team we have come up against this season yet we’re disappointed to have come away with nothing, that shows just how far we have come. We had a few missing against Newcastle but could have been 3-0 up before they scored.
“We’re creating chances but just not putting them away.”
Pat Lindley, Tom Rose and Hafeez Hamzat are all expected to return but Alec Denton misses out through suspension.
Bedworth will be looking for their first win of the calender year after starting 2017 with a 2-1 home reversal against AFC Rushden & Diamonds and a 3-3 draw at Stamford in the last outing.
Leaders Shaw Lane AFC travel to second-placed Spalding United looking to extend their lead at the top.
The Ducks are three-points clear of the hosts who have played three games more. Both teams are in excellent form with Spalding having won six in an unbeaten run of seven games, while Shaw Lane are undefeated in 18 outings in all competitions since losing 1-0 at Stocksbridge in late September.
Premier Division: Buxton v Hednesford Town.
Division One South: Bedworth United v Sheffield FC, Spalding United v Shaw Lane AFC, Stocksbridge Park Steels v Belper Town.
FA Trophy Second Round: Barrow v Matlock Town.