Pinchbeck United manager Lewis Thorogood. Photo by JAKE WHITELEY

Pinchbeck United manager Thorogood expects club to be given reprieve from relegation

Bullish Pinchbeck United manager Lewis Thorogood insists that his side will not be relegated from the Uhlsport UCL Premier Division North – despite finishing their season in the drop zone.

Last weekend’s 3-0 defeat at Leicester Nirvana saw the Knights fall one point short of securing their step five status on the pitch.

But Thorogood expects his side to be spared the drop and is waiting for official confirmation.

That’s because the Football Association’s official guidance, published back in November regarding restructuring the non-league pyramid, says that only 20 of the 32 teams across the 16 step five leagues will be relegated this season.

The guidance also states that the bottom team in each league will go down, as well as four of the sides who finished second-from-bottom – with 12 teams reprieved on a points-per-game (PPG) basis.

Pinchbeck finished the campaign in 11th position in the 16-team PPG ‘table’ which means that they are almost certain to be playing step five football again next season.

“As per the FA guidance, we’re not preparing for relegation,” said Thorogood. “I’ve already been busy speaking to other clubs about pre-season and we’re preparing for another season in step five.

“The guidance is very clear and the leagues are all finished now – we’re safe if they follow their own guidelines, which were published back in November.

“All I can really say is that I’m very confident we’ll be in step five again next season.

“Of course I’d have liked to have stayed up by finishing outside of the bottom two, but we’ve made real improvements this season and we want to keep that going.”

Indeed, Thorogood already has his sights set on next season after a tough year in what he calls “the toughest version of the UCL Premier Division North he’s seen”.

He felt there were no easy games all season and feels that the club have made progress both on and off the field despite their lowly finish.

The former Spalding United boss wants to continue that progression next season and is already looking forward to pre-season.

He added: “The standard in the league this season was very high. From top to bottom, there were no easy games.

“Yes, we came up just short and finished 17th out of 18. But we had some great results and took things to the final kicks of the season.

“We’re a small village team and, let’s be honest, nobody wants to lose to us.

“We revel in that and the lads have had some great moments this year.

“We’re sustainable off the pitch and work with a small budget, but you can see the improvement in a lot of the young players we’ve got.

“Having a sprinkling of experience alongside them has really improved them individually and us as a team.

“I’m excited to see how we continue to improve as a step five team moving forward.

“I’m learning as a manager too and I feel this season, especially our form towards the end of it, gives us hope that we can continue to improve.

“We certainly don’t want to be in this situation again next season and it’s my job to tweak the squad and get things right.

“The lads seem happy and hopefully the vast majority of them will return for next season.”

Should Pinchbeck’s reprieve be rubber-stamped, they’ll be South Holland’s only step five side, with

Holbeach United falling into step six for the first time in their recent history.

Given that restructuring is set to take place, it remains unclear what leagues both sides will find themselves in.

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