Stocksbridge PS 0 Pontefract Collieries 5
By: Owen Harrison Photos: Ian Revitt
Stocksbridge Park Steels fell to their 3rd loss in 6 games, as they were outclassed by a Pontefract Collieries side which sit 3rd from top in the Evo-Stik East Division.
Today’s visitors, managed by Craig Perry, boasted a great record coming into the tie at the Look Local Stadium, losing only two of their last 5 games and brimming with confidence after thrashing mid table Wisbech Town 4-0 last week.
Stocksbridge, meanwhile, came into the tie lacking confidence after a 4-0 thumping to top of the table Morpeth Town and from the first blow of the whistle, Stocksbridge never seemed to move through the gears, losing out on many second balls, and giving away silly challenges that the referee made note of.
The first real chance of the game fell to Alex Wiles, who was by far one of the best players on the field representing the Steels yellow and blue home strip. After great build up play from Scott Ruthven and Brody Litchfield, the midfielder sent it over the bar, without giving Ryan Musselwhite, the Pontefract Collieries keeper, too much trouble. However, Pontefract Collieries’ dominance soon shone through. The lead for Pontefract came in the 4th minute as Eli Hey nodded in after a mistake by Adam Kelsey in which he attempted to punch the ball away from immediate danger and fell to the goal poacher.
The visitors were denied multiple times by Adam Kelsey, notably when he tipped over a long range shot by Pontefract striker Michael Dunn, forcing a corner. The hosts were then left exposed by a high cross which fell perfectly to Eli Hey who then slotted into the bottom left corner from close range to bag his brace.
One of the star performers on the pitch, Rory Coleman was called into action just before the 15th minute mark, as he was on the line to head away a shot by Nickolas Guest that was destined for the bottom right corner. A great opportunity for Stocksbridge to find a way back into the game went begging, as Brody Litchfield’s shot at an angle was spilled by Ryan Musselwhite but no Steels player was there to slot home into an empty net.
Soon after, Eli Hey, another outstanding performer on the field, played a through ball in which to set up Nickolas Guest, one on one, and like the prolific striker that he is, he converted it past Adam Kelsey who was left helpless by his defense.
Half way through the first half however, Ben Rhodes was substituted for Luke Mangham after pulling his groin during play. Rory Coleman, again, played balls over the top, however Litchfield was unable to get to them, which were straying all over the field. Pontefract Number 8, Cody Cromack should have been in the referee’s book after a professional foul on Reece Fielding but the main controversy came seconds before the referee’s half time whistle when a blatant handball by Connor Smythe of Pontefract, was waved away by the referee, calling for strong shouts from the hosts. The second half wasn’t much better from the hosts, although they had a few good opportunities through Luke Mangham and captain Liam Mcfadyen.
Kler Heh’s debut ended in the 55th minute as he was substituted for former Maltby Main striker and the so called “Ice man” Danny Frost. Pontefract Collieries could have got a fourth on the hour mark when Jake Picton smashed the ball against the crossbar, and on the other end of the field soon after, Scott Ruthven miscontrolled a glorious 1 on 1 opportunity that was cleared by the Pontefract keeper, whom was called into action on numerous occasions in the second period.
The final nail in the coffin fell in the 83rd minute as Vaughan Redford was left with acres of space to curl home a fourth, an easy goal to defend, but that was the case for most of the goals scored by the visitors at Bracken Moor. A late counter attack then added the gloss to the Pontefract win as Jack Greenhough walked through the Stocksbridge defense and cooly finessed in a 5th.
Stocksbridge have now conceded 9 goals in two outings now, and with the relegation battle tightening up, Steels need to start chalking up some points if they want to avoid relegation to the NCEL Premier Division, all starting with another home outing next Saturday against Brighouse Town.