Stocksbridge boss aiming for play-offs

NPL Division One East 

Stocksbridge Park Steels manager Ian Richards. Picture: Peter Revitt

Ian Richards has his sights firmly fixed on steering Stocksbridge Park Steels into the play-offs this season.

That’s the aim for Stocksbridge who visit Worksop Town tomorrow.

Stocksbridge are sixth and Richards believes his men have a chance of a top five finish.

“This season we’re going to try and finish as high as we can,” Richards told Non League Yorkshire.

“If we get into the top five or six it would be absolutely brilliant.

“There’s a lot of football to be played and I feel we’re going to get better and better over the season.

“I don’t see why the play-offs aren’t realistic because everyone can beat everyone in this league.

“Marske and Liversedge might break off but I still think there is three spots up for grabs for a lot of clubs and teams and I would like to think we’re one of them.

“I keep saying that this club needs to get close to winning silverware so we’re going to take the Sheffield Senior Cup seriously and go as far as we can in that.

“It is a great experience and I have been fortunate to get to the final as a player and manager so I would love to take this club there.”

Richards is over a month into his Stocksbridge reign since his anointment to the Bracken Moor throne vacated by Chris Hilton.

The ex-Penistone Church boss enjoyed a dream start – winning his opening two league fixtures.

The Steels then slumped to two straight NPL losses before the midweek win at Pontefract Collieries. 

“Rocky in terms of results but we are moving forward in terms of preparation for games, training, togetherness as a group,” he said.

“It has all been positive but ultimately what you see is the results.

“The performance against Shildon was excellent, we were the better team against a team sat comfortably in second.

“Brighouse was tough and they had had a week’s rest and we had to go after a short rest so it was always going to be a hard test.

“Saturday (against Widnes in the FA Trophy) was the only real low-point in our tenure so far.

“We didn’t deserve anything from the game but apart from that one, in terms of the process we are getting better and better.”

Nerve-jangling is the best way to describe the 1-0 win at Pontefract.

Sam Finlaw’s first half goal was the difference but last minute drama almost saw Ponte snatch a draw.

Jordan Lemon’s deliberate handball on the goal-line led to a straight red card and led to a Ponte penalty.

But the three points remained in Stocksbridge’s hands as Edd Hall saved Vaughan Redford’s spot kick,

“It was extremely dramatic,” Richards added.

“After the performance we put in I think it is what we deserved but you couldn’t write that ending.

“Edd made a great save and young Elliott Walker’s second half performance was outstanding and he cleared our lines after following in.

“We were the better team in the first half and I think Craig (Rouse) would say that.

“We got into good areas, played good football and nullified their threat, we just didn’t convert when we got into those good areas.

“But we were the better team and the goal was well deserved.

“It was a good move and a good break.

“We knew Ponte would come at us in the second half and we stood up to the pressure.”

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