FOOTBALL: Rawlinson’s focus on ending away run

Spalding drew 0-0 at home to Market Drayton last weekend
  • Evo-Stik South

Spalding United’s awful away record is back on the agenda.

The Tulips’ trip to bottom-of-the-table Sheffield must be rearranged again – repeating the prospect of a long midweek journey.

But seven successive away defeats since October have left manager Chris Rawlinson frustrated.

He knows the run must end soon with eight fixtures still to come on their travels.

Spalding already face two midweek trips before the end of this season.

Rawlinson said: “We’ve only lost once in six home games since Christmas.

We’ve got to start picking up points on the road.

Chris Rawlinson

“But there are only five fixtures remaining at the Sir Halley Stewart Field so we’ve got to start picking up points on the road.”

Tulips captain Gary King completed a three-match ban as they fought out a goalless draw with Market Drayton Town last weekend.

They are due to play at Kidgsrove Athletic next weekend.

Meanwhile, the Northern Premier League’s clubs will meet next week to decide on the future geography of the competition after the big freeze blanketing Britain this weekend forced officials to postpone Sunday’s key meeting.

Called to discuss the Football Association’s draft boundaries for Steps 3 and 4 around the new Midlands divisions next season following their publication this week, the lunchtime meeting at the Holiday Inn Wakefield was rescheduled for next Thursday night as the so-called ‘Beast from the East’ wiped out Saturday’s entire programme of fixtures following early pitch inspections in all three divisions.

The meeting of all 68 clubs had already been planned to coincide with the long-awaited publication of the results of the National League System Review on The Non League Paper’s website on Wednesday morning.

As a result of the planned shake-up for season 2018-19 and beyond that is also due to be laid out in print in Sunday’s NLP, clubs are set to vote on whether to continue with the current north/south geographical split in EVO-STIK League North and EVO-STIK League South or switch to to an east/west allocation.

EVO-STIK League secretary Angie Firth told her club counterparts on Friday: “Unfortunately we have had to postpone the meeting scheduled for Sunday due to the severe weather. The Met Office forecast does not show much if any improvement until after the weekend and taking into account current weather/driving conditions, to re-arrange now was the sensible option.

“Many roads remain closed with the police and Highways England advising against any non-essential travel. Clubs coming across from the west would certainly find it a difficult journey if the conditions being experienced today are anything to go by so we hope you understand it was deemed necessary to re-schedule this very important meeting.”

Carried out by the FA Leagues Committee to iron out geographical anomalies, cut down on travelling costs and time for fans, players and officials and encourage more Step 5 clubs to climb the pyramid, the biggest shake-up to the structure of Non-League in more than a decade since 2004 will see the creation of new Step 3 and 4 divisions for season 2018-19 and beyond covering the Midlands region.

In total, the 276 clubs currently playing in Steps 1 to 4 will increase by 20 to 296 when the two new divisions kick-off in August 2018. Across the board, the reshuffle will see the three current Step 3 divisions of 24 clubs increase to four divisions of 22 clubs while the six divisions at Step 4 currently run by the Northern Premier League, Southern League and Isthmian League will rise from 136 clubs playing in six divisions to seven 20 club divisions.

To achieve the FA’s aims, only the bottom clubs in the current Step 3 divisions will be relegated at the end of season 2017-2018. In addition, only the clubs finishing last in the six divisions currently operating at Step 4 will be relegated with 26 clubs coming up from Step 5.

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