Non-league football: New Stone boss Dale hopeful of completing great escape
NEW Stone Dominoes manager Dave Dale is refusing to give up on the club's relegation battle.
Dominoes have parted company with former boss Dean Sibson after a winless start to the season which has left them rooted to the foot of the North West Counties Premier League table with just four points from 19 games – leaving them nine points from safety.
So, a mission impossible for the new management team of Dale, Nick Marren and Joe Humphries?
Not so, says Dale, whose side entertain Glossop North End tomorrow.
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Sibson resigned after the team's 9-0 home defeat by Barnoldswick a fortnight ago.
Stone then lost 7-0 at home to Colne last Saturday, but there were signs of encouragement in a 4-2 defeat at Stockport Sports on Tuesday.
The new management team are busy recruiting new signings after the club lost several experienced players as it nose-dived to the foot of the table.
Dale is a former Eccleshall Town manager and was a coach at Stone under Sibson.
He said: "If people want to think Stone Dominoes are already relegated then that's up to them.
"But with the players we have, the players possibly coming in, and some of the games we have still got to come, then there are a number of matches from which we can get points home and away.
"We need a few results going our way and also a reversal of luck, but I wouldn't write Stone Dominoes off."
Recruits include former Norton striker Steve Allen and fellow forward Dwayne Spence, who has returned for a second spell at Dominoes.
Midfielder Matty Lowndes and defender Josh Brown have arrived on loan from Kidsgrove and Newcastle respectively.
Dominoes don't have a budget to pay players, apart from travelling expenses.
Although they want to strengthen the team, Dale says they can't have a scatter-gun approach to the recruitment.
He explained: "If you bring in lads from all over the place then you find you never get decent training sessions or any real togetherness.
"However, you can't do this job without decent people around you. Luckily we have Nick Marren and Joe Humphries who are working tirelessly."
Marren and Humphries are taking the team on match-days because Dale is recovering from a knee replacement operation.
Dale, who was on Port Vale's books as a player in the 1970s, admits he's hugely frustrated at not being able to have a more hands-on role.
He said: "I can't stay in one position for even 20 minutes, so I don't see myself being able to be at the matches for another four or five games.
"If I was there at the moment, I would have to spend all game walking around the pitch on my crutches, which wouldn't be ideal."
Former boss Sibson is desperately disappointed his spell at Dominoes hasn't worked out, but is determined to get back into management.
He made his name as a talented young coach at Congleton Town where he was acting manager last season, aged just 25.
He took over at Stone last summer after Shaun Hollinshead left for Kidsgrove.
Sibson said: "I want to thank everyone at Stone Dominoes for giving me the opportunity.
"I believe in my own ability and went to Stone with plans for the long term, but recent results and performances have not been acceptable.
"I am responsible for that, but also feel I have been let down badly by some players who came into the club and didn't produce enough.
"In this league it is tough to survive and without money we found that very difficult. Players I have spoken to have, more often than not, gone elsewhere for money.
"But that is not an excuse, I knew the situation at the start of the season. I just want to thank everyone at Stone – and I will be back."
Elsewhere in the North West Counties Premier Division, fifth-placed CONGLETON are at home to sixth-placed Barnoldswick.
NORTON UNITED will be looking to complete an impressive week when they entertain Bootle. Norton won 1-0 in the FA Vase at Deeping Rangers last Saturday before returning to league action with a 1-1 draw at leaders Maine Road on Monday.
However, 16th-placed Norton will have their work cut out against third-placed Bootle.
ALSAGER are at 14th-placed Runcorn Linnets.
In Division One 12th-placed LEEK CSOB are at sixth-placed Formby, while Eccleshall travel to Daisy Hill in the Division One Trophy.