Warm sunshine greeted the steels players as they looked to get back to winning ways at the Lye Meadows Stadium against a high flying Alvechurch side. On a heavily sanded sloping pitch that had not recovered from the recent rainfall it was always going to be a game for fight, commitment and organisation.
With only 2 minutes gone Steels nearly went ahead when the home goalkeeper Charlie Price fumbled a Brodie Litchfield right foot drive that spilled onto the post.
Alvechurch began to show why they sit in second spot in the league with inventive attacking play where balls sent up top stuck at feet to allow support, accurate diagonal balls spread the Steels back four and second balls were being picked up. But Steels held firm, defended from the front and showed a great desire not to concede.
Apart from a couple of free kicks and corners Dave Reay the Steels goalkeeper had little to do really which was credit to the hard work, concentration and intensity of the players in front of him.
Alvechurch went ahead in dubious circumstances on 36 minutes when the Steels back four were appealing for offside when a long through ball was sent down the inside right channel and wasn’t dealt with. It was Nathan Waite, Alvechurch lively number nine who latched onto it one v one and chipped the ball over the advancing Reay, the ball hit the base of the post, rebounded back onto the onrushing Rhodes 1 yard out and back to Waite who passed it in the net.
A very unlucky sequence of events and not what the Steels lads had deserved as it certainly looked offside but it must be said that the officials were not having the best of days.
HT Alvechurch FC 1 – 0 SPS
The home team were showing again good signs going forward with bright possession football and third man running phases were clearly evident but the Steels back four ably led by Matt Reay were outstanding, protecting Dave Reay admirably. Indeed, Steels were now looking a threat up top, certainly on the counter attack and it was Ruthven who tested Price when Lumsden flicked on a header in the box for Ruthven to spin and volley from close range where Price tipped over.
It was no surprise when the referee failed to see the blatant pull on shirt of Lumsden in the box as he went through on goal. It was not going to be Steels day, the officials made decisions on whoever shouted loudest and with a voiciferous home support Steels were always up against it.
A free kick from 20 yards was well hit by Alvechurch captain Ashley Carters left foot, but didn’t trouble Reay the Steels goalkeeper who let it be as it went wide of his left hand post.
Alvechurch pressed high, they were a strong, fit and organised, were all physical units that were difficult to break down on a tight pitch.
The outstanding Matt Reay was unlucky to be booked for a great challenge deep in the Steels half where the resulting free kick led to nothing. Reay was central to the action and led by example winning numerous headers and driving the SPS boys to the end.
All in all plenty of positives from a battling, hard to beat performance from the Steels and if these attributes are taken into the last few games Steels will surely finish the season on a high.
Full Time: Alvechurch FC 1 – 0 SPS