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Pinchbeck United are hoping to be reprieved on a points-per-game basis

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Pinchbeck United boss Lewis Thorogood is 'confident' his side will retain their step five status despite finishing in the United Counties League Premier Division North relegation zone.

The Knights finished second-from-bottom of the table after their hopes of escaping the drop zone were scuppered in a 3-0 away reversal at Leicester Nirvana on Saturday.

However, official guidance that was published by the Football Assocation in November with regards to restructuring the non-league pyramid states that only 20 of the 32 teams across the 16 step five leagues would be relegated.

Knights boss Lewis Thorogood. (56274111)
Knights boss Lewis Thorogood. (56274111)

The bottom team in each league will go down along with four sides who finished second-from-bottom with 12 teams reprieved on a points-per-game basis.

Pinchbeck are 11th in the 16-team 'reprieve table' and manager Thorogood is planning for Premier Division North football for next season.

He said: "We are confident that we will have a reprieve of step five status for next season as per the points-per-game restructure that was published by the FA.

"We are firmly planning for step five status for next season and that has already begun in terms of players and pre-season friendlies.

"Ultimately though, as the table reads, we have fallen just short this season and, from our perspective, we now start the process of rebuilding.

"I am keen to ensure that we get the club stablised and learn from this season. We have to make sure that the club has better depth, on and off the field, so that we can really kick on and bounce back next season.

"I am pleased that everybody in the camp is keen to do that as well and we are fully preparing for step five status for next season."

Pinchbeck had travelled to Leicester Nirvana on Saturday needing a point to finish above Newark on goal difference.

However, they fell behind to Deen Master's first minute opener for the hosts with the Nirvana skipper then scoring twice more late on to complete his hat-trick as the Knights pushed for a leveller.

Owen Sheriff had seen a second half effort disallowed with the Knights trailing by just one goal before Andre Williams was thwarted by the home keeper as Pinchbeck suffered their first defeat in four games.

Thorogood added: "We had done ever so well to get the points on the board to take it into the last game of the season.

"But the pressure and build-up and everything that went with it before Saturday's game was probably a bit overwhelming for some of the players.

"We got caught like a rabbit in headlights in the first minute and then had a contentious goal disallowed for offside.

"We dominated periods of the second half but were then caught late on when we were chasing the game.

"I can't fault the effort and commitment of the staff and players though over the last few weeks to get us into that position."

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