Stocksbridge PS 1 Ossett United 1
By: Owen Harrison Photos: Chris Clancy
Stocksbridge Park Steels ended the 2018/19 campaign on a high after battling hard in extremely difficult conditions at Bracken Moor to earn a well deserved point against in form outfit Ossett United.
Today’s visitors to the Look Local Stadium came into the tie with good form as of late. With 10 points chalked up out of a possible 15 for the West Yorkshire side, the visitors came into the matchup on the final day of the season almost certain of a play off place. Although the gap was 3 points between North Yorkshire side Tadcaster Albion and Ossett United, the latter had a superior goal difference coming into today’s clash against the Steels which in theory, guaranteed Ossett United a place in the end of season lottery. In their most recent outing, Ossett United salvaged a point at their home ground Ingfield, against fellow play off hopefuls Pontefract Collieries, who took up 2nd position coming in to Matchday 38. It was going to be another big test for this young Steels side who came into the tie left rueing from their defeat on Bank Holiday Monday against mid table and close rivals Frickley Athletic. However, the loss in West Yorkshire on Easter Monday by no means reflects their form as of late.
The Steels in recent weeks have steered well clear of what, at times, looked to be an inevitable and expected drop into the NCEL Premier division, with wins against AFC Mansfield away and Lincoln United at the Look Local Stadium helping them rise up in the table to a safe and comfortable position of 14th. With 7 points tallied up out of a possible 15 in recent outings, Stocksbridge were never going to be walked over by an extremely promising and talented Ossett United side who were using today’s test at the Look Local Stadium to consolidate their position in the end of season play offs whilst trying to gain momentum ahead of their play off semi final against either Pontefract Collieries or Brighouse Town which would both provide difficult opposition for the West Yorkshire high fliers.
As the referee, David Hunt, blew the whistle to commence the game, the Steels and the visitors were immediately battling the elements. High winds affected the flow of the game from the start with many upfield kicks by the goalkeepers or the defenders flying way wide of their initial target. This resulted in very little chances being produced in the early stages of the tie.
Although Stocksbridge looked to have found the conditions challenging at times, it was the Steels who produced the first real opportunity of the match which was all initiated by Rory Coleman, the Steels number 3, who ran down the left wing before firing in a high cross that took a deflection off an Ossett United defender’s head. This deflection landed into the path of former Ossett United forward Danny Frost, who’s header fell narrowly wide to the right of goal.
The debut chance of the game for the visitors fell to Ossett United forward Christopher Chantler. After Marko Basic played through Chantler into a promising position on the left hand side of the box, the Ossett United number ten took fire with his preferred left foot, but his shot was blocked by a Steels defender who diverted danger away for a corner. The resulting corner was fired in from the left hand side by Corey Gregory and landed on the head of an Ossett United player and although it tested David Robson in the Stocksbridge goal, the header narrowly curved over the bar for a goal kick in favour of the Steels.
Following this opportunity, the visitors started to find their feet in the tie at Bracken Moor and soon settled in to the occasion. Stocksbridge were left rueing from their early missed chance and also injuries to key personnel on the pitch. Danny Frost was the first to go down after sustaining an injury in the build up to a promising Steels counter attack. After getting some minor treatment by the medical staff, he looked to be ok to continue but a few minutes later and the former Ossett United striker gave way for James Morris after he deemed he was unable to continue playing with the injury he picked up just before the 20 minute mark. Steels skipper Liam Mcfadyen then received treatment for a knock he picked up later on in the first period, but fortunately the knock wasn’t as serious as Danny Frost’s and he was deemed to be okay to continue by the medical staff.
That decision was so very crucial because as the game progressed, the Steels fell further on the back foot which meant they had to have key defensive players on the field to help neutralise the ongoing Ossett United attacks. A Tom Greaves shot from the edge of the box tested Hull City Academy loanee David Robson into diving low to stop the deadlock from being broken just after the half way mark in the first period.
But the relentlessness from the Ossett United attack paid off on the 30th minute mark after an unfortunate own goal by Steels defender Jordan Lemon. A Jack Vann cross from the right wing found the head of Ossett number 11 Tom Greaves who’s header hit Jordan Lemon on the way into nestling into the bottom left corner of the goal. It was a bitter pill to swallow for Stocksbridge who were battling so hard to prevent the deadlock from being broken.
Tom Corner, the Ossett United number nine, then fell victim of injury as well after sustaining a knock to the head through an aerial challenge by a Stocksbridge player. But it wasn’t as serious as what the medical staff initially expected and the Ossett attacker was able to continue despite his knock.
A turning point in the game for Stocksbridge came in the 43rd minute when the Steels were awarded a penalty in controversial fashion. As Luke Mangham counter attacked, the Steels number 11 burst into a promising situation in the left hand side of the box. As Brett Souter, the Ossett United goalkeeper, closed the Stocksbridge forward down, the Steels attacker took his shot off quickly to prevent the goalkeeper from closing him down any further and stopping the attack in its tracks. But as the shot curled way over the bar, Luke Mangham went down under minimal contact from the opposition’s goalkeeper and after a few moments to gather his thoughts, the referee David Hunt, pointed to the spot. This was Ossett United’s first penalty conceded this season and it was clear the players were unhappy with the decision as they crowded around the referee to try and alter his mind. But David Hunt waved away the appeals by the opposition in order to change his mind and booked Brett Souter for dissent.
Stocksbridge number 3, Rory Coleman stepped up and the resulting penalty was converted into the bottom left hand corner and although the keeper got a hand to it, it wasn’t enough to keep the ball out of the net and on the stroke of half time, Stocksbridge’s soldier like showing in the first half paid off with an equaliser.
HT-Stocksbridge 1-1 Ossett United
As the second half got underway, rain started to pour heavily upon the Look Local Stadium as the Steels and Ossett United continued to battle the blustery conditions that worsened over the 15 minute break.
A great chance fell to the hosts early on in the second showing. After good work down the left wing to create an opportunity by Luke Mangham, his pull back found Steels number nine Scott Ruthven in the centre of the box and the resulting strike which was directed to the centre of the goal was parried away by Brett Souter. It was a magnificent save to prevent the hosts from taking the lead.
As conditions continued to be blustery, cold and wet (it was a typical day out at Bracken Moor!), Ossett United continued to pile on the pressure to try and find an opening for a goal that would put them into the lead. Ossett United fans remained in good voice as the game progressed as the visitors sought to find a winner against a battling Stocksbridge side. Ossett United number two Jack Vann was booked after 65 minutes after laughing in the face of a number of Steels players after a slightly heated argument ensued over a 50/50 challenge. Presumably, this was done by Vann to rattle the Steels players and hopefully enforce them into making a mistake by doing this. All in all, this was an act of extremely poor sportsmanship by the Ossett United number two that was definitely correctly penalised by David Hunt.
Pressure mounted on the Steels in the latter stages of the match up at Bracken Moor. Notably, after a good pass from Marko Basic, Tom Greaves was played into a promising position on the right wing and after cuing his shot for the bottom left of goal, it narrowly missed in reaching it’s target. David Robson was, again, called into action late into the second half, making two crucial blocks to stop Ossett United from salvaging a late winner. A corner from the left was fired in superbly and landed in the path of Ossett United substitute Adam Priestley who’s header at the back post forced Robson in to making a fingertip save. The resulting follow up shot then forced Robson into making the double save, getting down low to block a low shot from the centre of the box. A great piece of goalkeeping which could have been what it took to earn the point the Steels battled so hard for.
The conclusion of the tie proved to be one of the most intense and nail biting finishes seen at Bracken Moor this season as in injury time, after good work by James Morris on the right, he pulled it back into the centre of the box finding Kane Swinburn who was a stud away from making contact with the ball and possibly netting an injury time winner with the opportunity that was at his mercy. With pressure intensifying from Ossett United, Stocksbridge hung on to claim a much deserved point through their resilience and soldier like performance against a very talented and high flying Ossett United, who with today’s draw confirmed their place in the end of season play offs.
Ossett United finish the season with 67 points totalled up, 1 point above 6th placed Tadcaster Albion who was so close to claiming a place in the top 5. Ossett United will now face 2nd placed Pontefract Collieries away from home in the play off semi final to try and secure a place in the Evo-Stik Premier Division. Stocksbridge meanwhile, finish the season on a run of good form. They finish the campaign in 13th position with 43 points tallied up this season. In conclusion, although the Steels were threatened with relegation at one point, they finish the season 16 points above the drop zone. This season, we say farewell to bottom placed Gresley and AFC Mansfield. 19th placed Carlton Town were not relegated by default due to the Pontefract v Gresley result whilst AFC Mansfield were relegated due to league rules not being fulfilled.
Congratulations to Morpeth Town on gaining promotion to the Evo-Stik Premier as well, it was very well deserved. But from me, I hope you have a very good and safe post season break and we’ll see you back at Bracken Moor pre season in preparation for another league campaign in the Evo-Stik East Division.
FT-Steels 1-1 Ossett United