PENISTONE Church are just outside the NCEL Premier play-off places on goal difference after finishing 2023 with a third successive win.

Church won 1-0 at lowly Bottesford Town on Saturday, with Antony Brown netting the only goal.

That took them up four places as most other sides’ games were cancelled due to the bad weather.

Penistone are now sixth with 36 points from 22 games, one place off the play-off positions.

Church, who targeted promotion at the start of the season, lost seven of 11 league games, with the last being a 5-1 home defeat to Garforth in mid-December which left them 13th and eight points off the top five.

But they have won three games over the Christmas and New Year period.

Manager Steve Lenthall said: “It’s three performances where we’ve dug in deep and shown we are a true Penistone side.

“The lads’ desire and attitude deserves a lot of credit. It’s been first class.

In Text Promo Image

“We have had a blip but we’re sixth. I would rather have the points on the board. We’re level with the play-offs.

“Who would have said that six or seven weeks ago?

“Hopefully we can push on in 2024.”

Church followed up their derby wins at home to Hallam and at high-flying Emley with the Bottesford victory.

Lenthall said: “We were excellent.

“Bottesford are a very very very good side especially on their own astroturf pitch. They zip it around and they are athletic. That is credit to their management team.

“We had a gameplan. We dug in and played decent football.

“We created a few chances early on and probably should have scored.

“Bottesford grew into the game and made it hard for us but didn’t have many chances.

“I thought we defended really well as a group.

“The wind was really strong, goal kicks were only going about 30 yards against the wind.”

Brown’s goal came just after the break following good work by Danny Howes and Kieran Ryan.

“Our goal is probably one of the best you will see in non-league football.

“Danny makes a great tackle and plays the ball into Kieran whose touch into Browny is first class. He goes down the line, hits it and you think: ‘take a bow son.’ It was a goal worthy of winning any game.

“Bottesford then had a lot of the ball but they went long which suits us.

“We warranted the win. It tops off a fantastic Christmas period.

“The support was really good.

“We had a busload of under 15s, and their parents, who played before us then stayed and watched our game.

“We get magnificent support.

“We need to thank all our volunteers. We’re in it together as a club and community.”

Church are now due to visit fellow top six club Albion tomorrow then host Shelley on Wednesday in the quarter-final of the Sheffield Senior Cup.