On a misty and dank evening under the lights at the Moat ground, Steels were looking to find form and to get back to winning ways against a Gresley side that was glancing over its shoulder towards the bottom of the table.
Scoring three goals away from home should be enough to win any game, but it must be said that Steels continued dismal defending certainly matched the dismal conditions.
The game began brightly with Rory Coleman hitting the post from a free kick from 18 yards after 3 minutes then the Gresley midfielder Shawn Richards broke away and banged a left footed looping effort over the stranded Dave Reay onto the bar from 25 yards.
A lively start to the match, Gresley were on the front foot, applying pressure to the ball and on 15 minutes took the lead, a short corner from the right, the ball was swung into a crowded box where Steels defenders failed to deal with the first and second ball, this created a melee where the referee spotted an infringement and awarded a penalty. Pearson Mwanyong despatched the kick away to Dave Reays right giving him no chance.
One nil down the Steels boys rallied and took control of the game with good spells of possession on an awful surface and looked as though they would score soon with numerous scrambles and near misses. Rhodes came in off the left wing and shot over from 18 yards. Brodie Litchfield, Joe Lumsden backed up by Scott Ruthven were constant threats as Steels pushed for the equaliser but it was Gresley, with the night mist rolling in, who got the second goal of the game, was it going to be one of those nights.
Along punt down the Gresley inside right channel saw no problems at all for Steels defender Todd Jordan who seemed comfortable in shepherding the ball to safety as Dave Reay advanced to cover the danger but it was the pacey Reece Morris who got in front of Jordan and scuffed a right footed shot past the Steels surprised goalkeeper away to his right.
Just before half time Litchfield (pictured) brought Steels back into the game with a cool one v one finish after Lumsden had attracted two Gresley defenders and played in the scorer.
Half Time... Gresley FC 2 – 1 Stocksbridge PS
SPS started the second half sloppily and Gresley were clearly on top and showed a fighting spirit allied to their precarious position in the league.
Both teams were guilty of moving up the pitch too quickly and leaving midfield players exposed as forwards failed to hold on to the ball, losing possession too easily, consequently, large gaps in the midfield areas were created, as players desperately tried to recover. Nevertheless, it was the industrious Scott Ruthven who hit the bar from 25 yards out on 55 minutes which seemed to invigorate the Steels players who had now started to match the spirit shown by their opposition.
An own goal was conceded by Gresley as a whipped in free kick taken by Coleman wide on the left was stabbed home by an unfortunate defender as the ball came into the corridor of uncertainty, the area between the goalkeeper and defenders. 2-2.
An immediate response from Gresley as Matt Melbourne found himself clear with an open goal to shoot at only for him to fire wide.
Steels went in front on 75 minutes when good work from Litchfield in the box down the right found Lumsden free at the far post for a deserved tap in.
It looked as though the Steels were going to get all three points, but the game, unnecessarily, became really stretched, Steels had failed to regroup, manage the game out in a frantic finale.
Again, late in the game Steels were punished... a cracking Mark Branch goal struck left footed from 18yards out into the top bin as the Steels left side was cut open, giving Matt Roome time to fizz in a low right wing cross. Branch met it first time giving Reay no chance.
The game overall was an evenly contested affair, played on an extremely poor, spongy, muddy surface where credit must go to both sides for an entertaining game of football.
SPS will be disappointed that they didn’t see the game out, so its back to the drawing board as they strive not to let the season diminish with a top ten finish still to play for.
Final Score: Gresley FC 3 – 3 Stocksbridge PS