Stocksbridge PS 1 Lincoln Utd 1
After a recent run of disappointing results manager Chris Hilton will be keen to get back to winning ways against a Lincoln United side that is pushing for a play off place.
With a glut of games coming thick and fast for Steels it will be important to get some momentum going and to see where it takes us, as we strive to gain what has become of late, an elusive 3 points.
A welcome to mild weather for a pleasant change here at Stocksbridge with plenty of local support too...
Lincoln started brightly forcing two corners almost from the kick off, a great diving save from Dave Reay tipping the ball around the post to his left, denied a terrific volley from Lincolns number 10 Grimes which was struck cleanly from 10 yards out. The warning signs were out as Lincoln pressed forward with the Steels boys struggling for rhythm and cohesion.
Both Brodie Litchfield and Joe Lumsden were thwarted by good defending as they searched for passing options in the last third. In the 21st minute they successfully combined well with Lumsden stabbing home from 6 yards receiving a pass from Litchfield after a jinking run down the inside left channel.
The excellent Matt Reay was dominant in the Steels back four and was in the thick of it leading by example as Lincoln pushed forward for the equaliser.
The game became a little scrappy towards the break with the Steels midfield three finding it hard to cope against a well drilled Lincoln four who began to control the pace of the game and pick up second balls.
Scott Ruthven shot from 18 yards, although struck well was straight at the Lincoln goalkeeper. A counter attack from Lincoln found the Steels defenders absent with a 3 v 2 situation with Grimes just missing contact with the ball central to goal from a dangerous right wing whipped in cross.
Half Time SPS 1 – 0 Lincoln United
A second half substitute for Steels as Ben Rhodes came on for Alex Wiles.
An uneventful first 15 minutes with nothing to shout about as Steels tried to force the play, get forward too quickly and likewise with Lincoln as both sides played too many straight balls.
On 70 minutes a strong left side penetrating run from Lumsden into Lincolns last third territory saw his cross miss all in front of goal and find Ben Rhodes sliding in at the far stick and hitting the base of the post from a narrow angle. Lincoln were now on top and looked as though they may find a way through but the Steels lads kept them at bay with a good shape and terrific defending led by central defenders Matt Reay and Liam McFadyen.
Steels were now defending deep and just really trying to catch the Lincoln side on the counter as they strived to hold onto the slender lead.
Three points looked in the bag as the extra time board was held up by Shaun Handysides showing a minimum of 5 minutes yet to be played.
On 90 minutes + 3 a long hopeful ball over the top of the Steels defence saw what seemed a breakdown in communication as Tom Charlesworth tried to head the ball to an onrushing Reay the Steels goalkeeper. Charlesworth did not get enough purchase on the ball and substitute for Lincoln....nipped in on the edge of the box as Dave Reay had no option than to bring him down.
Andy Toyne stepped up and drove the ball hard to Reays right, Reay saved brilliantly, parried the ball back to the taker who struck again, another great stop by Reay but only for the ball to go back to Toyne who then struck the ball into the net over a stranded Reay.
Drama to the last but a deserved point for Lincoln, some would say they deserved
more but overall another keenly contested, highly competitive league fixture.
Still waiting in vain for the elusive 3 points perhaps on Tuesday when the Steels visit lowly Gresley FC.