FOOTBALL: Rawlinson sending message for squad

Michael Duggan kept a clean sheet, including a penalty save, on the opening day of the season at Stocksbridge Park Steels
Michael Duggan kept a clean sheet, including a penalty save, on the opening day of the season at Stocksbridge Park Steels
  • Evo-Stik South - Spalding United v Stocksbridge Park Steels
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Spalding United could close the gap on Saturday to boost their bid for a top-half finish.

Weather permitting, they will face Stocksbridge Park Steels at the Sir Halley Stewart Field for the first time since their play-off semi-final last April.

Stocksbridge are only nine points ahead of us so why can’t we try to catch them?

Chris Rawlinson

From the starting line-up, Michael Duggan remains with the Tulips while Lee Beeson and Paul Walker have both returned to the club.

Jonny Lockie and Jenk Acar came off the bench in the play-offs, Neal Spafford was an unused substitute and the rest of the squad have moved on.

Acar was on target when Spalding won 2-0 away to Stocksbridge on the opening day of the current campaign.

Now, instead of looking at the play-off pack, the Tulips want to stay away from the relegtion battle.

Boss Chris Rawlinson said: “Stocksbridge are only nine points ahead of us so why can’t we try to catch them?

“That’s my message to the players because we need to be looking up the table rather than getting ourselves under pressure.

“We are 12 points off Leek Town with three games in hand to get into the top half.

“I’m not saying we will get near the play-offs but we know where we should be in terms of the quality in our squad.

“But there are probably 12 clubs who feel exactly the same!”

The home game against Frickley Athletic must be rearranged as Tuesday night’s fixture was called off due to a frozen pitch.

Gary King is still waiting to start a three-match ban while Ben Davison and Alex Smith are both unavailable this weekend.

Rawlinson is only allowed to select two out of James Hugo, Michael Antkowiak and Luke White, who are on work experience loans from the youth academy at Lincoln City.

He added: “We are trying to strengthen the squad where we can, although it’s difficult at this stage of the season.”

Meanwhile, former Tulips boss Dave Frecklington has been sacked by Gainsborough Trinity – just before his first anniversary at the National League North club – along with assistant manager Terry Fleming.