STEETON had the chance to virtually secure their safety in the North West Counties Football League First Division North on Saturday at home to fellow strugglers AFC Blackpool.

But instead, a seesaw 3-2 defeat for the hosts leaves them just four points clear of the relegation zone with four games of the season left to go.

For AFC Blackpool, the win at Marley moves them out of the relegation zone at the expense of Garstang, but the latter do have a game in hand on both the seaside outfit and Steeton.

Steeton had been embarrassed 4-0 at home to lowly Daisy Hill last time out, leading to a furious post-match interview from boss Roy Mason, where he slammed both his players and the inner workings of the club.

But he admitted to the Keighley News that he hoped it would bring a reaction, which he got from his side on Saturday, eventually.

The first half was not the most inspiring affair, but Blackpool certainly deserved their narrow 1-0 lead at the break.

Jack Lynn was forced into a goal line clearance in the opening moments after James Catlow’s misjudgement in the Steeton goal had allowed a Blackpool man to knock the ball past him.

The visitors had the vast majority of the territory in the opening quarter of an hour and while Steeton wrestled back some form of control, they fell behind on 29 minutes.

A corner dropped at the feet of Nicholas Hepple in the box, and he lost his marker before firing the ball home.

Barring a wildly misdirected Jake Townsend volley, it was virtually all Blackpool up until the interval, though Alfie Gibbon and Josh McKiernon were left particularly incensed when the referee turned down a penalty appeal from Steeton on the stroke of half-time.

Steeton returned after the break looking galvanised, and though Blackpool went close with one strike that hit the side netting, the hosts were very much on top, led by the inspired Toby Jeffrey.

After coming close a couple of times, the club stalwart equalised when he powered home the rebound after Ethan Hudson-Parker’s shot from McKiernon’s cutback was saved.

Craven Herald: Toby Jeffrey fired Steeton level on Saturday in what turned out to be an enthralling second half.Toby Jeffrey fired Steeton level on Saturday in what turned out to be an enthralling second half. (Image: Ian Meachin.)

Hudson-Parker then put Townsend’s cross inches over the bar, before Blackpool retook the lead on 69 minutes through Scott Stirling’s free header.

Yet Steeton equalised instantly, James Edgley heading home his first senior goal from a corner.

Townsend was inches away from turning home Josh Coe’s cross to put Steeton in front, but instead Blackpool took the lead for a third time with 10 minutes to go, when Hepple netted at the far post.

George Gomersall’s sin-bin for dissent harmed Steeton further, but they survived the visitors hitting the post while he was off the field.

And after Gomersall returned in injury-time, Edgley hit the bar and Catlow, of all people, headed over the bar at the last after coming up for a free-kick.

Steeton have to pick themselves up off the floor now for a home derby with promotion-chasing Ilkley Town on Non-League Day this Saturday.

As for the relegation picture, only the side finishing bottom in this Step 6 league will definitely be relegated.

With Nelson nine points adrift at the foot of the table, albeit with two games in hand on three of the other four sides in danger, they look most likely to suffer that fate.

For the sides finishing second and third-bottom, their relegation is subject to enough amateur clubs being eligible for promotion from Step 7 of the Non-League System to take their place.