Stockport County manager Jim Gannon

National League North preview: Stockport County fear play-off hopes are over heading into last two games

STOCKPORT COUNTY boss Jim Gannon has hinted he already has one eye on next season with the Hatters’ hopes of winning promotion from the National League North now hanging by a thread.

Momentum had been building at Edgeley Park, with fans hoping this would be the season the club ended it’s 4-year exile in non-league’s 2nd tier. And despite losing just 1 of their last 22 league games, they look set to fall just short of the play-off places.

Although County are unbeaten in 9, they’ve won only 3 of them after drawing both games over Easter weekend, and Gannon (above) admitted Monday’s stalemate at 4th-bottom Worcester “felt like a 0-0 defeat” as it left the Hatters 4 points off the top 5.

They’ve got 2 games left so can still do make the play-offs, but to have any chance they must win at Bradford Park Avenue tomorrow.

“We’ve got into a good mentality for not losing, being strong and solid, but we’ve lost the quality and ruthlessness to go and win games,” said Gannon.

“Worcester will be happy with a point and probably deserved it. We never really broke their back four with any quality balls or combination play. It was frustrating that, with 20 minutes to go, I’m getting hoarse telling people to play higher (up the pitch) and put some pressure on them.

“Players have got to understand you might as well go for broke. We did it quite well at the start of the season but at the moment we don’t seem to be able to do that. Maybe it’s fatigue or a lack of stamina.

“I don’t think we’re well equipped to see the season out in style and be confident going into the play-offs,” added the County boss. “We’ve had a great season, the lads have worked really hard, but perhaps the same things have caught us out – a bit of a lack of depth, a bit of a lack of quality – and that’s come home to roost.”

That point Worcester means 2nd-bottom STALYBRIDGE CELTIC are now 6 points from safety. They have 3 games to play so are still alive but, like Stockport, they must win tomorrow.

Manager Steve Burr felt Good Friday’s 2-1 defeat away to Gloucester City was self-inflicted due to a “moment of madness” by captain Matty Hughes, which saw the centre-half sent off at 0-0 with 30 minutes left. Burr praised the effort shown by the 10 men and Bridge also had chances at home to 5th-placed Chorley on Easter Monday, but still lost 1-0.

Hughes is now suspended for Celtic’s last 3 games, and they must win at home to 9th-placed Tamworth tomorrow to have any chance of keeping their survival hopes heading into Tuesday’s home game with Harrogate Town.

Relegated ALTRINCHAM are destined to finish bottom but salvaged some pride with a 3-2 win at Curzon Ashton on Good Friday, before losing 4-1 at home to 2nd-placed Kidderminster on Easter Monday. The Robins’ final home game is against Alfreton tomorrow.

FC UNITED are 14th, a point behind Curzon, after losing both games over Easter – against Brackley and Darlington. The Reds are away to 12th-placed Nuneaton tomorrow.