STEELS EARN A GOOD DRAW


Stocksbridge PS 1 Stamford 1

Report: Own Harrison

A late equalizer for Stamford AFC courtesy of substitute Sean Wright was enough to prevent Stocksbridge from bouncing back with a victory after last Saturday’s crushing 3-1 home defeat to Spalding United that ultimately ended their unbeaten start to the season having played 5 games of the 2019/20 campaign.

Today’s visitors to the Look Local Stadium came into the tie with good form as of only recently. After 3 consecutive wins to Glossop North End, Ilkston Town and Wisbech Town respectively, which kick started Stamford’s league campaign in style, the outfit from Lincolnshire suffered their first loss of the league season 2 weeks ago to the hands of high fliers Sheffield FC. Despite what proved to be a blowing and demoralising 3-1 home loss to the side from Derbyshire, Stamford bounced back from their first loss of the season which ultimately ended their 100% start to their league campaign with their second batch of back to back victories of the season, taking home all the winnings in their away outing against Lincoln United meanwhile also progressing into the next stages of the FA Cup after narrowly beating Witham Town last Saturday 1-0. Although they came into the tie at Bracken Moor looking to make amends for a disappointing performance on home turf to Carlton Town last Saturday, which resulted in the visitors taking home all 3 points courtesy of an emphatic 3-0 victory, this result shouldn’t overshadow what the visitors have achieved so far in this new campaign as seen with their collection of points they have gained across 6 games; a grand total of 12 points which is on average 2 points per game which is a pretty good stat to come into today’s tie with. Stocksbridge have also kick started their season impressively too. After their unbeaten start to the season spanned to 4 games including victories against Lincoln United, Sheffield FC and thumping Kidsgrove Athletic 4-0 in their back yard, Stocksbridge’s record came to an abrupt and surprising end last Saturday at Bracken Moor against Spalding United where they were on the receiving end of a brilliant display that culminated in a 3-1 loss for the hosts by the visitors, Spalding who produced a performance definitely worthy enough of all 3 points on the day.

It was all to play for this afternoon as the hosts from Sheffield and the visitors from Lincolnshire both attempted to bounce back from crushing defeats last Saturday which ultimately dented both team’s run of forms in the league. They did so by battling it out at Stocksbridge’s home of Bracken Moor which was bathed in autumn sunshine as the referee Dane Mccarrick led out the two team captains Scott Ruthven and Cleceland Taylor along with their team counterparts. The Steels skipper for the day Scott Ruthven won the first dual before the game even commenced by taking victory in the coin toss. The Steels number 10 decided the hosts could get the ball rolling this afternoon and so, in form front man Luke Mangham, the Stocksbridge striker, got the game underway as 3pm dawned, with Stocksbridge playing from left to right and the visitors Stamford playing vice versa.

The Steels created the first opportunity of the matchup seconds after the referee Dane Mccarrick’s first blow of the whistle. After good play in the midfield by Stocksbridge following a brilliant long ball by Manchester United loanee stopper Jacob Carney, new signing Steven McDonnell had an immediate effect on the tie by threading through a lovely pass into Steels skipper Scott Ruthven who was able to latch on to the good ball by the Steels’ latest recruit and run through on goal. As Ruthven dashed into a promising position on the right hand side of the box, the Steels attacker took fire for the bottom left corner, and although it looked to have beaten the man between the sticks for Stamford, Danny Haystead, Ruthven’s low driven shot just managed to stay out of the goal via the woodwork after his shot clipped the post and was immediately cleared back upfield in a frenzy by the Stamford AFC defenders.

Another chance was soon curated, minutes after for Stocksbridge with Steels’ new recruit Steven McDonnell being heavily involved in the action again. The new signing managed to flick the ball into the path of Luke Mangham through a glancing header just over the half way line and as a result of this brilliant play between the two team mates, Mangham managed to find the time and space to chest the ball down and run into a dangerous position on the right hand side of the box. But as Mangham took fire from deep inside of the opposition’s six yard box, his low strike towards the bottom left corner cut just wide of the bottom left post and the score stayed level for the time being.

Stamford did create their fair share of chances in the first half though. Notably, one of their best chances of the opening showing came courtesy of Stamford number ten Tendai Chitiza’s free kick from the left wing but although it managed to curl around the two man Stocksbridge wall, it was stopped relatively comfortably by young stopper Jacob Carney who dived low to prevent the deadlock from being broken with the low driven free kick from the Stamford number ten.

But it was Stocksbridge who created the best opportunities of the first period and their perseverance nearly paid off with a goal around 15 minutes into the tie at Bracken Moor. After a goal mouth scramble ensued following a brilliant ball from the left flank for the Steels, Stocksbridge had the ball in the back of the net after a frenzy on the goalline but the celebrations were cut short by the referee Dane Mccarrick who immediately blew his whistle after the linesman put his flag up as a result of an apparent foul on a Stamford player in the build up to the goal.

Moments later and at the opposite end, the visitors, Stamford also had a goal ruled out, this time for offside. A ball from the right wing from Pearson Mwanyango fell to the backpost where Ollie Brown Hill was perched to prod the ball home but the celebrations were cut short again by the linesman’s flag after Brown-Hill was caught out by the offside trap.

But just minutes later and Stocksbridge bagged the breakthrough goal that they so surely deserved after a marvellous opening 20 minutes from the hosts that saw their courageous display dazzle the visitors to the Look Local Stadium. A ball from the left wing found Luke Mangham in the centre of the box who managed to twist and turn away from his marker to poke home the opening goal of the matchup via a minor deflection from a Stamford defender. That’s now 9 goals in 6 outings for in form front man Luke Mangham which is one of the best goal scoring statistics in the league so far this season which is a brilliant accolation to have as a young rising star coming through the ranks and the footballing pyramid.

Stamford sought an instant reply though, and nearly gained one through Ollie Brown-Hill. After a lovely ball from the left flank from Cosmos Matwasa in which he played in Ollie Brown-Hill into a superb position in the Steels’ six yard box after the Stocksbridge back line opened up severely, Ollie Brown-Hill took his shot off from a few yards out on the near post but he was immediately flagged up for offside though by the linesman and ultimately it didn’t matter anyway as the Stamford number nine’s shot was stopped awkwardly by Jacob Carney who took a blow to a sensitive area in the process of blocking the shot. Due to this, Carney went down in agony to the floor which cued the Steels’ medical staff to rush on to help the young stopper. After a few minutes down, the Manchester United loanee keeper got back up and running again after receiving some medical treatment and although the injury now looked to seem to be only minor, the medic bellowed out to the touchline on his journey back to the dugout that Jacob now “had three testicles!” His words, not mine.

One of the final chances of the first showing came deep into time of the first 45 minutes courtesy of an unlikely goal scorer Lee Thompson. From a long way out, the Steels’ player-cum-manager decided to take his chances with a venomous strike destined for the top left corner. Although it looked to have been hitting its target which would have resulted in what potentially would have been the goal of the season by far for Stocksbridge, Danny Haystead prevented this scenario from occurring by tipping the fierce shot away out of the six yard box and away from immediate peril as his Stamford counterparts helped him abort danger quickly and efficiently.

HT-STOCKSBRIDGE 1-0 STAMFORD AFC

After the half time team talk, one in which Stocksbridge would come out the tunnel brimming with confidence after lapping up the praise of Danny Frost and co who acted as the Steels’ management for today’s game, the second half got underway through Stamford attacker Ollie Brown-Hill’s kick of the ball.

Stocksbridge immediately picked up where they left off attacking wise through two good chances created early on in the second showing via set pieces. An early corner from Kane Swinburn on the left nearly managed to nestle into the back of the net beyond Stamford stopper Danny Haystead after the set piece was poorly dealt with by the Stamford defence. If it wasn’t for Rob Morgan on the near post to clear any potential hazard immediately away for a second corner then Kane Swinburn could have potentially found the back of the net straight from a set piece. Seconds after and Kane Swinburn’s second corner created another good chance. This time his corner from the left again found the looming Reece Fielding in the centre of the box who managed to tower over his marker and get his head onto the end of the cross and force a downwards header towards Danny Haystead in the Stamford goal. But although the header was accurate and powerful from the Steels’ number 6, Haystead dived low to prevent the goal scoring margin from becoming any greater.

Stocksbridge could have put the final nail in the coffin though just short of the hour mark through another set piece. This time, a free kick from the left flank from Kane Swinburn was fired into the centre of the box where Steels skipper Scott Ruthven was ready and waiting to pounce on the opportunity that was at his mercy. Although the towering striker managed to loom over his markers and get excellent contact onto the end of the inch perfect set piece, unfortunately his powerful header came to nothing more than a chance that could have been after his fierce header ricochet off the upright and away from peril as the Stamford defenders cleared up the aftermath of danger that ensued.

But the waste of chances for the Steels proved costly as late in the day, Stamford bagged an undeserved equaliser courtesy of substitute Sean Wright. A ball from the right wing from Pearson Mwanyango managed to find Sean Wright in the centre of the box who managed to nod home an equaliser into the top left corner from 4 yards out beyond Jacob Carney, despite a wicked deflection off a Steels defender that turned the Steels stopper the wrong way for a split second, which proved to be difference between the keeper saving the looping header and not.

And with that goal being the final bit of action of the matchup at Bracken Moor, the referee Dane Mccarrick blew his whistle for the final time despite late controversy between the Steels’ backroom staff and the linesman who, after being asked by Lee Thompson about how much time was remaining, insisted that he didn’t have an idea of the time left on the clock because he received no indication from the man in the middle Dane McCarrick. This just sums up the officials for the afternoon; disorganised and at times, appalling, as seen with some of the decisions they made that disgruntled both dug outs several times. Stocksbridge will hope to not have a set of officials like that again when they host Staveley on Tuesday in the Sheffield Senior Cup where the sin bin rule will debut for the first time in a match hosted at Bracken Moor, meanwhile the visitors next host National League North outfit Boston United in the FA Cup Second Qualifying round next Saturday in desperate hopes to have a good cup run that will ultimately secure financial stability for the season.

FT-STOCKSBRIDGE 1-1 STAMFORD