In a night when social media was down, Steels were on the wrong side of another 2-1 defeat this time at Brighouse Town. But just like on Saturday the score line does not tell the full story. Brighouse took lead in 11th minute before a penalty midway through the first half meant Steels had an uphill battle. It was then a case of what could have been. A very late goal by Nathaniel Crofts gave Steels a glimmer of hope before Nodder was brought down in the box in stoppage time only for the referee to bottle it. Steels again had nothing to show for another battling performance.
Stocksbridge had no time to think about the setback at home to Shildon where most who had seen the game felt Steels had done enough to earn a point, as last night they made the journey to West Yorkshire against Brighouse Town. It may sound cliché but this season there is no easy games, as last night proved. For Stocksbridge it was our first away game since we lost in the FA Cup and the new management teams first. The manager made two changes to the team that lost Saturday, in came Lemon for the injured Trench (he could be back Saturday) and the returning Mangham came in for Nodder. This meant both Lumsden and Mangham started a game together for first time this season. I said to other Steels supporters it would either work or it won’t. Only time would tell.
Steels started the brighter of the two sides, with Whitham playing on the right getting Steels first chance but the shot was straight at the keeper. Brighouse though grew into the game and despite Steels bright start the home team looked dangerous down the right. Their first attack resulted in a free kick in a dangerous position, thankfully nothing came of it and went out for a goal kick. Lumsden create a chance out of nothing turning a few Brighouse defenders inside out but they managed to defend well and a good counter attack by them, again down the right (putting our stand in left back Lemon under constant pressure) but the resulting shot was wide. Steels again got half a chance when Ruthven created space to play in Mangham but he couldn’t get the ball from under his feet resulting in a scuffed shot. Stocksbridge again would be cursing themselves for not making most of the opening exchanges as on 11 minutes Brighouse took the lead, somewhat against the run of play. Once again the attack from the right the ball coming over and Steels didn’t clear the lines and Jack Boyle turned his man and fired into the bottom corner.
The goal knocked the wind out of Steels sails and for the next 25 minutes Brighouse were on top. You could tell they hadn’t played Saturday as they took control of the midfield and looked very dangerous going forward. What didn’t help Stocksbridge is both our central midfielders ended up in the book within first 30 minutes of the game and in other games Finlaw might have seen red. The bookings meant it clipped our style of play in the middle of the park and it became a frustrating period for the traveling fans as Steels seemed to lack width meaning the forward line was starved of service. Just as fans talked about getting in at half time just 1-0 down things went from bad to worse as Brighouse won a penalty. Now I was behind the other goal so can’t say if it was or wasn’t a penalty but there was little complaints from the Stocksbridge players. Laurence Sorhaindo went straight down the middle to make it 2-0 on 37 minutes.
This seemed to galvanise Stocksbridge and with Whitham swapping to the left, we finished the half the better of the two sides. Despite being on top Steels were restricted to half chances and went in at half time 2-0 down.
Steels started the second half like they finished the first half and you’d have thought with the speed and intensity of how they came out it was Brighouse who had played a game Saturday. With best chance coming from a fantastic flick on by Ruthven that playing in Mangham but a fab last ditch tackle presented a Steels goal. But in a repeat of the first half Brighouse grew into the game and looked dangerous on the counter attack and won several corners without converting any. Stocksbridges best change of game came from a lovely floated ball by Whitham to Ruthven but his shot was over. Soon after another great chance went begging as again Whitham was the provider but this time it was Mangham guilty of missing as his shot just creeped wide of the far post.
Ian Richards pulled the trigger and did a double substitution with Turner and Nodder coming on and Ruthven and Goodwin going off. Just like Saturday the subs changed the game in Steels favour, but Brighouse was always dangerous and Hall was excellent in the second and pulled off some solid stops and was commanding in the area. It’s not gone unnoticed by the Steels fans how good Hall is this season. Frustration started to creep into our game and Whitham a few times was guilty of trying to take over the entire Brighouse defence instead of playing the ball into the box when we had the numbers advantage, one nearly resulted in a 3rd goal as Brighouse took the ball off him, broke on the counter attack and thankfully Hall again produced a good stop. Stocksbridge made their final substitution with Crofts coming on for Lumsden.
Going into the final 10 minutes of the game Steels again managed to get on top with Nodder getting a chance but again was straight at the keeper. We then all thought it was 2-1 when Crofts was played in only for the ball to creep wide. Then in the last minute out of nothing Crofts showed his class when he looped a lovely shot into the top corner to give Steels a glimmer of hope. A minute later Nodder was played in and was taken out and everyone except the official thought it was a stonewall penalty but he bottled it. Tempers then boiled over and a rash challenge by Walker meant he was the 3rd Steels player into the book. Steels still had 2 minutes but again couldn’t create anything and went down to another 2-1 defeat.
Both games Steels had deserved at least a point and we had solid penalty claims turned down by the officials. We are creating numerous chances but we are guilty of not capitalizing when we are on top.
Man of Match: Walker (picked by both Adam and Dave from Twitter)