Stocksbridge PS 2 AFC Mansfield 1
By Dave Rhodes Photo: Ian Revitt
Newly promoted AFC Mansfield provided a stern test for Chris Hiltons men on Saturday in a keenly contested affair at the Look Local Stadium. One enforced team change was made for Steels with Mangham coming in for Stirrup after the mid-week victory over Carlton Town. A terrific atmosphere was generated, primarily, due to the large contingent of the SPS supporters club congregated towards one end of the ground.
Mansfield showed respect, some would say too much, to a confident looking Steels side by standing off them and letting them play. It was all Steels during the opening stages and it was no surprise when Alex Wiles broke clear on 15 minutes piercing through the defensive lines brilliantly and cutting the ball back for Kane Swinburn to tap home from 2 yards out.
1 – 0 to Steels who were dominant in terms of ball retention and making the opposition work, were the best side on view by a mile. Wiles again came close with a long drive fizzing just over the bar, then Williams struck a left foot piledriver that whizzed past Whites left hand upright from 20 yards. It was certainly all Steels with the busy Wiles being instrumental in all that was good about the performance so far.
It wasn’t until the last ten minutes of the half when we saw an attacking threat from the away side when a sequence of three corners were gained in quick succession, all were knocked into the box without causing the Steels defence too much concern really.
With Steels looking to counter at this point it looked as if the Mansfield boys had tactically come to grips with the home sides formation, nullifying possession and most of the Steels attacking advances. Nevertheless, Steels held firm and went in one nil up at Half Time
HT: SPS 1 – 0 AFC Mansfield
Mansfield kept up the good work and started on the front foot from the onset of the second half with a grit and determination not shown in the first period. Brad Wells coming close with a volley from 10 yards and numerous ventures into the Steels last third were giving Jordan Amissah the imposing home goalkeeper plenty to think about as they piled men forward. Amissah had a good deal of action in front of him but really didn’t have that much to do in terms of saves and handling which was credit to the boys in front of him. But on 58 minutes an untidy piece of defending led to the equaliser.
McFadyen, who hadnt put a foot wrong all game rose only to mistime his header from a long hopeful throw into the area. The ball looping off the back of his head and over the helpless Amissah dropping, as if in slow motion into the corner of the net.
Mansfield were definitely back in it and continued to press forward looking the more assured and brighter team with Steels now desperately trying to get a hold on the game. Mansfield were picking up second balls and were a real threat down each wing.
Credit Hiltons masterclass in a tactical manoeuvre that changed the game from 60 minutes onwards when Rhodes was sent on for Swinburn. The change meant that Mansfields wide men were now not as effective as they now needed to defend and run the other way!
Immediately the tactic brought success as Rhodes and Wiles combined down the right, Wiles broke into the box caused panic and found Rory Coleman who was as cold as ice in the 6 yard box sweeping home from close range.
2 – 1 to Steels as the game reached a frantic finale as Mansfield pressed for the equaliser...Brad Wells unlucky not to score as his far post header scrapped the post, but Steels held firm and saw out a thoroughly entertaining match.
Steels supporters left the ground loud and proud and enjoyed their day out I'm sure. We hope to see them all again.
Yes, Hilton, Hilton did give them a wave!!
Next up its Pontefract Collieries on Tuesday 25th September with a 7 – 45 ko