Stocksbridge PS 2 Lincoln United
Report: Owen Harrison Photos: Chris Clancy
A late penalty converted by Luke Mangham was enough to see Stocksbridge Park Steels continue their unbeaten start to the league campaign this afternoon at the hands of Lincoln United who went into the game at Bracken Moor seeking to build upon their first victory of the season that they earnt in their last outing on Bank Holiday Monday, on home soil to Spalding United.
Today’s visitors to the Look Local Stadium came into the tie with poor form as of late. After their pre season preparations were finalized with a narrow 2-1 victory against nearby rivals Matlock Town on home grounds, Lincoln United returned to competitive action with 3 crushing losses on the bounce, 2 away from home. Notably, one of their defeats proved to be an embarrassing annihilation of the visitors, as seen with the score line when they took the short trip to Cleethorpes Town where they were thrashed 5 goals to nil in what proved to be a moment where the outfit from East Yorkshire were brought back down to earth after a successful pre season campaign in which they only lost 3 of their 9 games that they participated in. It was going to be another stern test however for Lincoln United this afternoon as their opponents for this afternoon’s game, Stocksbridge Park Steels came into the tie on home turf boasting near to immaculate form in the league. After a mixed bag of results in pre season for the Steels, Stocksbridge immediately got up and running in competitive action by bagging 7 points out of a possible 9 in their last 3 league outings; 3 of which were earnt by edging a thriller against nearby local rivals Sheffield FC 3-2 at the last game to be played at Bracken Moor. In the hosts’ last outing, a goal on either side of half time from Reece Fielding and Luke Mangham earnt Stocksbridge a much deserved point against Glossop North End in an incident strewn game which ensured the Steels’ unbeaten start to the league season continued meanwhile Lincoln United’s last outing saw the whites pick up all 3 points against Spalding United on home turf, courtesy of Danny North’s second half penalty.
It was all to play for this afternoon as the outfit from Sheffield attempted to maintain their unbeaten record of the league campaign whilst the outfit from East Yorkshire attempted to record only their second victory in 4 league games. They did so by battling it out in the typical blustery conditions of Stocksbridge’s home of Bracken Moor.
Before the game even got going the Steels won the first clash of the afternoon by winning the coin toss courtesy of the Steels skipper for today’s game, Kurtis Turner. The Steels number 4 decided the visitors could get the ball rolling and so Noel Burdett, the Lincoln United forward, got the game underway as 3pm dawned.
The Steels created the first opportunity of the matchup, though, seconds after the referee Declan Brown’s first blow of the whistle. A superb ball from the backline of Stocksbridge fell into the path of the Steels number seven Lewis Whitham who managed to beat his man and charge down the right wing with pace before drawing the ball back into the centre of the box where Steels skipper Kurtis Turner was prepared to take his shot off. However, he was unable to do so after being pushed to the ground in the box by a Lincoln United defender and although there was an abundance of appeals from the touchline, the referee looked to have misjudged the clumsiness of the challenge and waved play on and the visitors managed to abort danger back upfield to the frustration and despair of the Steels’ coaching staff, which today consisted of Lee Thompson and Danny Frost due to Chris Hilton’s absence for today’s encounter at Bracken Moor. The incident was one of many to not be taken note of by the referee Declan Brown for today’s game and many onlooking fans believed in Steels’ assistant manager Lee Thompson’s motive that he bellowed out on the touchline; “it was a stonewall penalty”.
Stocksbridge looked to have come out of the blocks imminently in the encounter at the Look Local Stadium as most of the hosts’ chances spawned in the first 20 minutes of the first showing. After a cracking ball from Kurtis Turner on the half way line, Ruthven fired in a brilliant cross into the box from the right wing creating a golden opening, but as the ball flew across the face of goal, there was no Stocksbridge player in the box to tap in the opportunity that was at their mercy and therefore the chance was surrendered by the Steels and the ball was imminently cleared by the Lincoln United defence and as a result the score line stayed level for now, when it really should have been advantage to the hosts after the flurry of openings they created in the first showing.
Lincoln did create their fair share of chances too though in the first half of proceedings at the Look Local Stadium. Notably, one of their best chances fell to Seidi Alberto after the 30 minute mark. After Reece Fielding made a mess of clearing danger upfield, Jack Wightwick was allowed the time and space to dance his way around the Steels defenders who looked rooted to their spots in this instance. His brilliant work managed to create an opening for Seidi Alberto, who’s powerful strike from the edge of the box directed to the centre of the goal was stopped relatively comfortably by Manchester United loanee Jacob Carney.
But it was Lincoln United who remained on the back foot for most of the game. Following this half of a chance for the visitors and down at the other end Scott Ruthven played in a long low cross from inside his own half into the Steels number seven Lewis Whitham who was put through 1 on 1 with Michael Emery, the Lincoln keeper, through Ruthven’s delightful long ball. But Lincoln defender Jack Turnbull managed to chase back just in time to make a crucial and blowing interception to halt Whitham’s attack.
As the first half began to reach its conclusion, Stocksbridge continued to search for the goal that would give them the advantage at the break. They nearly found this goal 4 minutes before half time after brilliant work by Scott Ruthven again, creating a sniff of a chance for Lewis Whitham on the left wing. The young Steels number seven, managed to run down the flank and beat his defender not once, but twice, to turn in and shoot for the top right corner, but his shot flew well astray of the target and Lincoln United stopper Michael Emery had to take a long walk to collect the ball from behind the goal.
But Michael Emery’s walk to collect the ball seemed to have been his last bit of action for today’s encounter as seconds after, he was sent for an early shower by the referee Declan Brown after he charged out of his box to try and abort danger that Lewis Whitham was charging towards like a cheetah but instead he deliberately handled the ball outside of the six yard box which meant the referee had no option but to send Michael Emery to the showers. A blatant handball always leads to a red card at any level of football, they’re the rules. Due to the red card of Michael Emery, substitute stopper Oliver Battersby, sporting the number twenty top replaced him in goal and his first bit of action in this game was picking the ball up out of his own net. Luke Mangham took the resulting free kick on the edge of the box with a long run up and managed to hammer the ball over the six man Lincoln United wall and nestle his free kick into the bottom left corner of the goal beyond substitute keeper Oliver Battersby who couldn’t do anything to keep the rocket out by the in form top man Luke Mangham. A peach of a goal if I do say so myself by the in form Steels striker who, with that goal, has now scored 6 goals in 4 games; a brilliant goal scoring stat.
HT-STOCKSBRIDGE 1-0 LINCOLN UNITED
As the blustery conditions continued at Bracken Moor, the second half got underway after the half time team talk, one in which Stocksbridge would come out the tunnel brimming with confidence after lapping up the praise of the coaching staff after their first half showing. However, this was not evident in the early stages of the second period as sloppy defending from the hosts’ cost them a goal. A mix up and miscommunication between the Stocksbridge defenders resulted in Seidi Alberto, the Lincoln United number 8, to be put through 1 on 1 with Steels’ young stopper Jacob Carney. Although Alberto was quite a distance away from the ball when it was fired into him from the Lincoln midfield, Carney decided to stay rooted to his spot and not come charging out to what would have been an easy ball to collect. This proved costly as poor goalkeeping by the young Manchester United keeper meant that Alberto pounced on the opportunity and the two mistakes to fire low beyond Carney and level the tie 1 all. Although Carney may feel hard done by with that effort, as he did get a touch to the low shot by Seidi Alberto, but it just about managed to trickle over the goal line.
As the hour mark approached, play became sloppy from both teams and lacked real quality, precision, edge and accuracy that the first half was brimming with from the hosts. Stocksbridge could have regained the lead that they lost earlier on in the second half however, after 61 minutes, if it wasn’t for another officiating error by referee Declan Brown. It was clear to see from the stands that Oliver Battersby, the Lincoln United substitute stopper, punched Ross Goodwin in the face after attempting to abort danger by punching the ball out of the box. It was a stone wall penalty as Lee Thompson likes to shout from the touchline but the referee again, kept his whistle in his pocket and allowed play to resume when the incident should have resulted in a spot kick to the hosts.
Moments after and Stocksbridge had another golden opportunity to regain their lead courtesy of rising star Lewis Whitham. After brilliant work again by Luke Mangham who managed to fend off competition on the ball from Lincoln United to sprint down the left flank with pace, he managed to use this good work to his advantage by firing in a low cross into the far post where Lewis Whitham was waiting to pounce like a tiger on the opportunity. However, from six yards out, the young star fired high over the bar from a glorious position in front of goal which could have regained the 1 goal advantage for Stocksbridge.
Albeit constant pressure from Lincoln United towards the latter stages of the encounter at Bracken moor, it was Stocksbridge who edged the game 3 minutes from time courtesy of a Luke Mangham penalty. After a Josh Nodder long ball from the right flank into the centre of the box caused all sorts of problems for the visitors, Mark Gray took down Reece Fielding as he launched himself into the air to get onto the end of Nodder’s inch perfect pass into the Steels midfielder. The referee Declan Brown had no choice but to point to the spot. In form Steels front man Luke Mangham stepped up to the plate, and under immense pressure to bag all 3 points for the Steels in a testing tie, fired his spot kick into the bottom left hand corner of the goal beyond Lincoln’s substitute keeper Oliver Battersby to bag himself not only a brace in the match and also what proved to be the winner but also his 7th goal in 4 games; an immense goal scoring stat.
After a frantic final few minutes of the encounter as Lincoln seeked an equalizer, Declan Brown concluded the match after 4 minutes of injury time to the roar of cheers from the Stocksbridge following who were again entertained by their teams showing, particularly in the first period of the tie. It is now 4 league games unbeaten for Stocksbridge, with 3 wins chalked up and 1 draw seeing the Steels climb to a respectable 4th position in the table, 2 points off the leading pack of Leek Town and Carlton Town who are both boasting 100% starts to the season still. Next up for the Steels is a rearranged home tie against Spalding United next Saturday whilst Lincoln United, who sit in a perilous position of 17th in the league currently, host Stamford on Monday evening seeking to make amends for a sloppy performance this afternoon.
FT-STOCKSBRIDGE 2-1 LINCOLN UNITED