Pinchbeck United hope to be pardoned on a points-per-game basis

Pinchbeck United boss Lewis Thorogood is “confident” his side will maintain their fifth stage status despite finishing in the United Counties League Premier Division North relegation zone.

The Knights finished second in the table after their hopes of escaping the drop zone were dashed in a 3-0 comeback at Leicester Nirvana on Saturday.

However, official guidelines issued by the Football Association in November regarding the restructuring of the non-league pyramid indicate that only 20 of the 32 teams in the 16 five-stage leagues would be relegated.

Knights boss Lewis Thorogood. (56274111)

The bottom team in each league will fall with four teams finishing second from bottom with 12 teams pardoned on a points-per-game basis.

Pinchbeck is 11th in the 16-team ‘suspension table’ and manager Thorogood is planning Premier Division North football for next season.

He said: “We are confident that we will have a reprieve from Stage Five status for next season, in line with the points-per-game restructuring published by the FA.

“We are firmly anticipating stage five status for next season and it has already started in terms of players and pre-season friendlies.

“At the end of the day, however, as the table says, we have been narrowly missed this season and, from our point of view, we are now starting the process of rebuilding.

“I want us to stabilize the club and learn from this season. We need to make sure the club has better depth, on and off the pitch, so that we can really start and bounce back next season.

“I am delighted that everyone in the camp wants to do this as well and we are fully preparing for stage five status for next season.”

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

However, they fell behind Deen Master’s first-minute opener for the hosts with the Nirvana skipper then scoring twice later 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 hometown keeper as Pinchbeck suffered their first loss in four games.

Thorogood added: “We had done very well to get the points on the board to get him into the last game of the season.

“But the pressure and the buildup and everything that went with it before Saturday’s game was probably a bit overwhelming for some players.

“We got caught like a rabbit in the headlights from the first minute, then a contentious goal was disallowed for offside.

“We dominated the second half periods but then we were caught late as we continued the game.

“I cannot fault the effort and commitment of staff and players over the past few weeks to put us in this position.”

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Raymond I. Langston