STEVE Burr’s bid to lead STALYBRIDGE CELTIC to safety in the National League North took a turn for the worst on Saturday.
Celtic’s 1-0 home defeat by Darlington, coupled with ALTRINCHAM’s 1-0 win at Boston United, saw the Robins soar above Bridge, sending Burr’s men to the bottom of the table.
His survival mission has been hindered by postponements in recent weeks so, yes, the table is a little misleading in that Bridge have 4 games in hand on Alty and most of their other relegation rivals.
But hopefully the ignominy of dropping below a team that was only a few weeks ago being dubbed ‘the worst in England’ (that was Alty by the way, they only reached 10 points on February 18) could spark a turn in fortunes for Stalybridge.
They can climb straight off the bottom as Tuesday night’s home match against Bradford Park Avenue is the only midweek game in the National League North. Bridge have 3 games in hand on the visitors, who are just one point above the drop zone in 18th, and with his side 15 points from safety, Burr admits time is of the essence.
“We’ve got a mini-season now and we’ve got to win as many games as we can,” he said. “Winning breeds confidence, which breeds further success. We all want to get on a roll of winning matches because time’s running out for us so it’s important we start winning matches – and the sooner the better.”
Since Burr returned for a second spell as boss, Stalybridge impressed in a double-header with 2nd-placed Salford City. But after losing 1-0 in the league at Salford on February 18, Celtic didn’t play again until last Saturday (March 11), when Darlington’s Mark Beck won the game with a 1st-half penalty.
After not playing for 3 weeks, Bridge now have 5 games before the end of March – away to Altrincham this Saturday with the other 4 at home. They also have midweek fixtures every week from now until the final week of the season.
On-loan striker James Roberts finally made his Celtic debut against Darlo but Burr stressed he will have to make regular changes in the coming weeks with such a busy schedule in store.
“Everybody will be needed,” he added. “If we are going to stay up, we’re not going to do it with just 11 players, it’s going to be the squad, and looking around the squad, I’ve been more than happy with the way the lads have been working.
“The players need to be ready for when they do get their opportunity, to go in there and do everything they can to keep us up.”
Incidentally, a group of disgruntled Altrincham fans are planning a walk-out protest against chairman Grahame Rowley at Saturday’s home game with Stalybridge.