Stocksbridge PS 0 Marske United 0
By Dave Rhodes Photos: Ian Revitt
Points today, added to the four picked up since the turn of the year will mean a notable improvement in fortune for the Steels. Marske United provide todays opposition and after a turbulent week off the pitch, Steels Manager Chris Hilton and staff will be glad to refocus the minds on activities on the pitch.
With a really strong wind blowing in favour of the home side Marske found the opening stages very difficult indeed as Steels pressed forward with real intent. It was clear after only a few minutes that the challenging playing conditions would undoubtedly prevent any sort of controlled possession and passing from either team really. Certainly the away side would have assessed the strength of the wind in their faces and come to the conclusion that a forty five minute containment exercise would be the order of the day.
A frantic, pinball scramble in the away sides six yard box saw the ball cross the line, just, Steels players celebrated the goal but the referee had other ideas, looked over to the linesman who failed to confirm. Corners, long throws and free kicks poured into the box, Ruthven was close with a long range dead ball kick that fizzed just wide, Swinburn latched onto a through ball and fired wide as Steels searched for the opening goal. But it was Marske centre forward Curtis Round who had the best chance of the half. He found himself one v one with Ed Hall who expertly held his ground, coming out on top with a terrific close range stop to his left 16 yards from goal.
Half Time: SPS 0 – 0 Marske Utd
Steels were up against it with the wind causing all sorts of issues, clearances were blowing straight back at them and Hall was kept busy. It was not a game for the football purists but commitment, desire and attitude was there to be seen, in abundance from both sides. Marske now piled men forward with a direct approach to the game but Hall came into his own with a dominant second half performance dealing with everything thrown at him with self assurance and poise.
Lemon and Ruthven came close on the counter as Steels surprisingly put passes together and could have sealed the points for Steels with near misses in front of goal, but poor playing conditions resulted in little expansive play from both teams really in a game spoilt by the gale force strength of the wind.
Credit the Steels boys for a spirited second half performance, with backs against the wall they worked extremely hard to a man, compacted the game well, put bodies on the line and held firm. The only way is up, as tough games come thick and fast in what will be, undoubtedly a tense second half to the season.
Full Time: SPS 0 – 0 Marske Utd