Stocksbridge PS 3 Sheffield 2
By: Owen Harrison Photos: Ian Revitt
Stocksbridge Park Steels continued their 100% start to the season after fighting back from a goal down to salvage all 3 points against a Sheffield FC side who went into the game at Bracken Moor on Tuesday night also seeking to extend their winning run in this 2019/20 campaign.
Tuesday’s visitors to the Look Local Stadium came into the tie with good form as of late. After their pre season schedule was capped off with wins against city rivals Hallam FC and National League outfit Chesterfield, Sheffield FC returned to league action on Saturday with a convincing 2-1 victory against Newcastle Town at the Home of Football stadium in Derbyshire. A Ben Turner tap in and a towering header by Sheffield FC front man Mitchell Dunne was enough to seal all 3 points for the hosts that day although Jack Van Der Laan provided some sort of consolation late on for the visitors Newcastle Town, who made the lengthy trip over to Derbyshire for what proved to be a very difficult test for the outfit from the North East. Tuesday night’s game was always going to be another very stern test for this young and revamped Steels side who came into the tie at Bracken Moor on the back of a highly convincing and thumping 4-0 victory away from home at the hands of Stoke on Trent based football club Kidsgrove Athletic on the opening day of the season.
Two goals from in form top man Luke Mangham and a goal each for Steels’ number ten Scott Ruthven and new addition Lewis Whitham, who sat out on the bench for Tuesday’s encounter with local rivals Sheffield FC, was enough to see the Steels storm to the top of the standings of the Evo Stik South East Division, having a much more superior goal difference than their league counterparts who were also on the same amount of points as Stocksbridge. With both the Steels and Sheffield FC, the visitors, winning their opening games, it was all to play for on Tuesday night as the outfit from Sheffield and the outfit from Derbyshire battled it out in extremely tough conditions at times, to try and not only get the bragging rights of winning the only Sheffield derby of the season, but also to retain their 100% starts to the 2019/20 campaign.
Before the game even commenced the Steels won the first duel of the evening by winning the coin toss. The Steels decided to get the ball rolling in the first showing kicking from left to right in the opening period.
As the game commenced under the referee D.Dutton’s first blow of the whistle, Sheffield FC immediately started on the front foot. Michael Williams’ long cross from the left wing to the back post looked promising as it flashed across goal but no Sheffield attackers were there to poke home the ball into an empty net after Jacob Carney, the Manchester United loanee, was rooted to his spot. Moments after this glorious opportunity and Michael Williams was involved again in another build up play by the visitors. This time around, another long ball by the winger was fired into the box, this time, meeting the head of Sheffield FC number 4 Brad Beatson in the centre of the box, who’s powerful header towards the roof of the goal was tipped away by the young Steels stopper Jacob Carney.
In the early stages of this tie at the Look Local Stadium, the hosts seemed to be on edge which is why they were being forced into making mistakes by the visitors who were clearly having the best of play on this Tuesday night at Bracken Moor so far. This was clear to see when Stocksbridge defender Kurtis Turner clumsily took down Karl Demidh in a dangerous position which resulted in a free kick being awarded for the visitors on the edge of the penalty area. Thankfully, his error didn’t prove to be costly as the resulting free kick was fired way over the bar by ex Steels man Rory Coleman who sported the number 3 shirt on Tuesday evening, like he did several times at Stocksbridge last season.
But Stocksbridge’s edginess when moving the ball around the field soon tolled on them when skipper Liam Mcfadyen made a huge error in trying to abort danger in which he gave the ball away clumsily to Karl Demidh. With very little numbers back for the Steels, Karl Demidh was given the time and space to run into a promising situation before launching a perfect through ball into Sheffield FC number seven Michael Williams who struck the ball on the half volley with venom, precision and power to smash it home beyond Manchester United loanee Jacob Carney and break the deadlock in this already entertaining tie.
Stocksbridge sought an instant reply after going down by a goal early on, and almost instantly replied to Sheffield FC’s deadlock breaker by nearly equalizing themselves. Kurtis Turner’s low driven corner from the left wing failed to create a promising opportunity although the delivery looked to be reaching a Steels counterpart initially. But down on the opposite end of the field, and the Steels, moments later, were lucky enough to have not been down by a further goal. Rory Coleman placed an inch perfect through ball from the edge of the box into the centre where Mitchell Dunne was waiting to pounce on the opportunity like a tiger with its prey. But he failed to connect with the ball and because of this, Carney collected the ball comfortably and aborted immediate danger by swiftly kicking the ball upfield.
Minutes later though, and Stocksbridge bagged the equalizer that they so desperately needed. It was all initiated by Joshua Nodder who did brilliant work down the left flank to firstly, beat his defender, secondly, get into a promising position, and thirdly, to fire in an inch perfect cross into the Steels’ attack force. His cross from the left found the looming Luke Mangham on the back post who smashed in his 3rd goal of the season into the roof of the net, beyond Sheffield FC stopper Dylan Parkin who had no chance of getting a hand to Mangham’s venomous strike.
With the scores level, tensions on the field and around the ground grew as the two teams sought another breakthrough goal. Sheffield FC were nearly gifted one after around 20 minutes of the first showing when a mix up between the Steels defenders allowed Sheffield FC attacker Mitchell Dunne to burst through 1 on 1 with young keeper Jacob Carney but the youngster made a phenomenal save with his lower body to prevent Sheffield from regaining their 1 goal advantage
The Steels were also agonisingly close to taking the lead for the first time of the game when Declan Slater fired a promising ball across the face of the six yard box. However, as it sizzled across the face of goal, two Steels attackers slid in too late and missed the final touch that would have buried the ball into the back of the net and therefore the opportunity dissipated.
As the game grew, Stocksbridge started to find their feet in the tie as they began to provide Sheffield FC with a more stern test. This was seen after 33 minutes after good build up play by the Steels midfield force led to Declan Slater being delivered a brilliant ball at the edge of the box that he took on himself and fired low towards the bottom right corner of the goal. But Dylan Parkin, the Sheffield FC keeper, just about managed to deal with the danger as he dived low to prevent Stocksbridge from taking the lead on the stroke of half time courtesy of Steels number 7 Declan Slater.
Sheffield FC could have been gifted their second of the day on the stroke of half time too. After Ross Goodwin clumsily gave the ball away when attempting to abort danger, Michael Williams, the Sheffield FC winger burst through into an area of unmarked space on the left wing. However his attack came to a sudden halt, just as he was about to launch in a cross into the six yard box when Goodwin made amends for his earlier mistake by forcing a crunching challenge on the number 7 Williams to take the ball out for a corner that resulted in very little for the visitors.
HT-Stocksbridge 1-1 Sheffield FC
As dusk began to settle upon Bracken Moor, the heavens opened, providing the two teams much more difficult conditions to battle it out in during the second showing at the Look Local Stadium. It was Sheffield FC again who started the second showing on the front foot. The first chance of the second period fell to Mitchell Dunne, the Sheffield FC attacker, who was played in from the right wing by Ashley Grayson. Dunne had the time and space to cue up his shot but he rushed his attempt and instead of angling his fierce shot for the top right corner beyond Carney, it instead rippled into the side netting.
The turning point in the game however, was in the 52 second minute when the referee D Dutton awarded a penalty to Sheffield FC as it became apparent that Steels skipper Liam Mcfadyen handled the ball in his own area. After several minutes of negotiating with the referee and the linesman on the near side, the decision stood and Sheffield FC forward Mitchell Dunne smashed the resulting spot kick into the centre of the goal beyond Manchester United loanee Jacob Carney to regain the visitors’ advantage.
But moments after the restart and Scott Ruthven attempted to make amends on behalf of his Steels counterpart after a poorly dealt with cross landed in the path of the Stocksbridge attacker but unfortunately he miscued his shot on goal from the edge of the box and instead of targeting the top corner, he instead smashed the ball high and wide over the bar as it glided into the stand behind the netting.
Literally seconds after his miscued attempt, Scott Ruthven didn’t make the same mistake again from an opportunity in a similar position to his last that he fired over the bar. This time around though, the Steels number ten found the back of the net after his low and powerful shot rippled into the bottom left hand corner beyond Dylan Parkin who had no chance of getting his hand to Ruthven’s excellent strike. Although there would have been some questions asked by the Stocksbridge players if the attempt hadn’t found its way into the back of the goal as a Steels player was taken down in the penalty area in the build up to the equalizer but the referee waved play on, and rightly so, as the promising situation that landed at the feet of Ruthven resulted in the equalizer for the hosts.
Joshua Nodder also tried to get in on the goal scoring act too soon after. After brilliant work by Luke Mangham down the left wing dancing his way around a Sheffield FC defender and bursting down the left wing with pace, he cued up a brilliant pass into Joshua Nodder who had the time and space to take a touch and strike his effort towards the bottom right corner but what proved to be a tame shot in the end by the Steels forward came to nothing as it was stopped relatively comfortably by Dylan Parkin.
After 86 minutes of play, 41 of which were spent battling the elements down at Bracken Moor, the tie looked to be finishing even stevens for the two rivals. But the game took an unexpected twist late on when a Sheffield FC defender handled the ball inside his own area and referee D Dutton decided it was an incident worthy enough to award a spot kick for the hosts. Although it looked like a for gone conclusion that it wasn’t a penalty from the stands, there was not much appeal from the visitors and the resulting spot kick stood. In form front man Luke Mangham stepped up to the plate and rocketed the resulting spot kick into the top left corner leaving Dylan Parkin with no chance once again to get a hand to the penalty kick that gifted Mangham his 4th goal in two games.
And with that being the final action of the game, Dutton concluded the match after 4 minutes of injury time to a roar of cheers by the Stocksbridge following who came out in numbers on Tuesday night to watch what proved to be a thrilling contest between two sides who I’m sure will be both fighting it out at the top of the standings during the course of this season. Stocksbridge did magnificent work to fight back from a goal down and also to regain their lead through a late spot kick after being pegged back by a penalty awarded on the other end of the field in favour of the visitors. There’s got to be credit where it’s due though to the visitors, who also travelled to the Look Local Stadium in brilliant numbers. Their hard work and effort nearly paid off in a much deserved point for the visitors from Derbyshire, but wasted chances in front of goal from Mitchell Dunne and James Gregory notably looked to have been their downfall on Tuesday night. If the visitors took the chances with more accuracy and precision on the night, then I might be writing an entirely different match report today.
FT-STOCKSBRIDGE 3-2 SHEFFIELD FC