With a much depleted side Steels will be keen to make amends for a recent lack of consistency and poor results and with the season approaching its conclusion and little to play other than pride, manager Chris Hilton will no doubt be assessing individuals, their performances, character and desire as he prepares his retain list for next year.
Tonight’s opposition is a Bedworth Utd team that sits in third spot in the division, will certainly be a tough nut to crack on a mild evening here at the Look Local Stadium.
It seemed a very nervy start to the game for both sides with each team giving the ball away cheaply. Steels had a makeshift centre back partnership with the experienced Richard Stirrup alongside Todd Martin.
The first chance came as Scott Ruthven seemed to overrun the ball deep into the Bedworth box as he was put through on goal by Todd Martins long range pass.
But it was Steels who broke the deadlock on 18minutes to go in front with a snap shot strike from Brodie Litchfield from 20 yards out, the Bedworth goalkeeper seemed surprised by the attempt and didn’t react letting the ball fizz past his left side into the net. It was good to see Litchfield back into the groove and looking dangerous.
Steels were knocking long balls over the Bedworth back four causing all sorts of problems then squeezing high to press the ball and were really on the front foot competing and playing well. Another long ball for Litchfield to chase, his pace beat the advancing away keeper to the ball and he slotted the ball into an empty net. Two nil to the home side, with a Bedworth team left stunned with the intensity of the contest so far.
Dave Reay continued his great form with a stunning close range reflex save from Keen the Bedworth number nine. Steels defended well, particularly Todd Jordan and kept the wounded Bedworth troops at bay as they rallied strongly towards the end of the first half. After a flawless first 43 minutes Steels goalkeeper Dave Reay scuffed a clearance leaving the Steels back four chasing back desperately after they had pushed on. Bedworth forwards couldn’t believe their luck, eventually forcing the ball home.
Half Time SPS 2 – 1 Bedworth United
The second period started brightly with both teams pressing forward, Litchfield was a constant menace to away defenders. On 55 minutes Lumsden nearly scored as he lobbed the away keeper after picking up a second ball from a corner but the ball just went over. Litchfield again with a well struck half volley from 18 yards then he was back defending in the left back spot tackling and clearing the ball upfield. Litchfield epitomised the attitude of the Steels side showing spirit, grit and determination.
Neither team was able to get the ball down and play as the referee broke up moves when he perhaps could have allowed the advantage but overall he was having a decent game with the next goal important for both teams and niggly fouls reflecting this aspect of the contest.
It was Steels who scored via the penalty spot when, the midfield dynamo, back to form, Alex Wiles was brought down in the box. Litchfield was elected to take the kick in order to gain his hat – trick and duly struck it cleanly to the goalkeepers left.
3 – 1 and Steels looking happy to see out the game but another defensive error brought the away side back into it and Steels again putting themselves through another nervy finish. It was the outstanding, man of the match Todd Jordan who, under pressure, headed the ball down ward to the edge of the box instead of upward. This allowed Troke the Bedworth midfield player to half volley home from 15 yards out giving Reay no chance.
Unexpectedly the game went a little flat at this stage with Steels nullifying the Bedworth teams efforts quite easily and the contest becoming largely a midfield affair. Josh Hobson was brought on for the tiring Jack Poulton on 85 minutes and with his first touch sent Lumsden away one v one who passed the ball under the advancing away keeper to score Steels fourth.
A well deserved victory for Stocksbridge who played really well, sometimes in football when the chips may be down with many key players missing, those coming in, perform to prove a point and ultimately give the manager a nice headache for team selection next outing.
Full Time Steels 4 – 2 Bedworth Utd