A nightmare five minutes at the start of the second half caused Stocksbridge Park Steels to lose 3-1 at Cleethorpes Town.
Stocksbridge took the lead when Lewis Whitham made the most of a defensive mishap to score. Cleethorpes levelled just after the start of the second half with a cool Jack McMenemy finish before an Oli Donald header turned things around. The game was sealed at the end when Daniel Batty finished off a Cleethorpes counter attack.
The game didn’t thrill many from the start. The Steels did have a flurry of corners to begin with but most were cleared, with the exception of the one Reece Fielding was able to get on the end of though that one was headed over.
The closest Stocksbridge got in this early part of the game was when Scott Ruthven, returning to the first team line-up, was able to turn and shoot. His shot made Tom Jackson in the Cleethorpes net scramble but it ended up being wide. Cleethorpes also went forward and weren’t too far off when Tim Lowe’s excellent cross was headed over by Alex Flett.
Immediately after Cleethorpes’ chance though, Stocksbridge had the lead. There was a mix-up at the back for the Owls and Whitham was able to get onto it, knock the ball past the goalkeeper and finish.
Cleethorpes did try and get back into it and weren’t far off on a couple of occasions. Harry Middleton’s free kick, given due to a high foot, was hit very hard but would go wide of Ed Hall’s right goal post. They’d also put a great low cross in through the six yard box but that one missed everyone before going out.
Despite this, Stocksbridge were the better side in the first half and looked like they’d be the next team to score a goal. Whitham was looking for his second when he passed his man but his shot would be right at Jackson. Josh Nodder came a lot closer when he cut inside when his shot was touched wide by Jackson.
Cleethorpes did almost get themselves on every Christmas football blunder DVD. Paul Walker headed back for his keeper but it ended up going over him. His blushes would be spared by the ball bouncing over the bar as well as the rest of his defence, meaning Stocksbridge led by the one goal going into half time.
The second half would start in a nightmare fashion for the Steels. The Stocksbridge defence fell asleep to a ball coming in and Brody Robertson got plenty of space in the box. Instead of shooting himself, he spotted Jack McMenemy with plenty of space and he passed it to the former Lincoln City striker. McMenemy duly finished and levelled the game.
Cleethorpes completely turned the game around just a couple of minutes later. Alex Flett’s corner was sent in and Oli Donald was onto it to powerfully head the ball in. Within a few minutes of the second half starting, it was Cleethorpes winning.
The Owls continued to dominate as they pressed to get a third. McMenemy had a shot from distance which was very close to being a wonder goal. Not to be out done, Sam Topliss tried a long distance effort which rattled the cross bar.
While the long distance efforts were dangerous, something a bit more conventional was probably the closest Cleethorpes got to extending their lead. Robertson was able to lob his defender before hitting a low drive inside the box. Ed Hall did well to get down low and save the shot.
Stocksbridge did not threaten the opposition box that much in the second half. The closest was when Lumsden was able to drag the ball away from Jackson after a mix-up in the Cleethorpes box. This eventually ended with the ball getting to Whitham on the right who tried to get it in, but his curling shot was wide before Jackson got a touch on it.
Stocksbridge did put some pressure on but that ended up being their undoing. Cleethorpes would break from the pressure the ball was swept to Josh Batty who finished at the far post.
MOTM: Kurtis Turner