A much changed Stocksbridge Park Steels side were not able to get a point in a battling 4-2 loss to Dunston.
Stocksbridge took the lead through a Luke Mangham penalty. They were pegged back by a far post header from Liam Thear before a penalty from Sado Djalo gave Dunston the lead. They doubled that lead with a mazy effort from Thear. Nathaniel Crofts got one back for Stocksbridge but despite a battling second half, a wonder goal from Lee Mason stopped any hopes of a comeback.
From the off this was clearly going to be a physical affair with both teams putting their bodies on the line. But this can cause mistakes which is what Stocksbridge profited off. Elliott Walker surged past his man and was tripped in the box, meaning a penalty was given. Luke Mangham stepped up and his spot kick hit the post before hitting the back of the net.
It wasn’t long through until Dunston were back level. They earned a free kick at the far left and it was lifted in for Thear at the far post to head past a helpless Hall. Just as it looked like Stocksbridge were going to have another great trip to the North East, reality bit.
The game would soon completely turn around. Dunston crossed the ball in from the right and it appeared to hit Michael Trench’s arm. Dunston then got a spot kick and their own goal machine Djalo sent Hall the wrong way to give the Fed the lead.
Dunston were seeing a lot more of the ball at this stage and were looking to get a third. Good play from the hosts allowed a low cross to be sent in with Jake Stafford connecting at the near post but Hall made the save. Hall would be on hand again when a lofted ball put Michael Pearson through only for the Steels keeper to make a great save. Stafford gathered the follow up and sent the ball goalwards but Liam McFayden made a crucial block.
The third did seem inevitable and so it would be. It was Thear who turned on his speed and passed a few defenders but his shot got past Hall at his near post, giving Dunston a comfortable lead.
But if you thought Dunston were going to go on and dominate this game, you would be proven wrong. A long throw by Trench would be cleared to the edge of the box where a returning Crofts was. He was back after an injury had ruled him out for a while but he hadn’t lost his touch with the former Toronto winger hitting a great shot which smashed off the bar before going in, giving Stocksbridge life before the end of the first half.
Dunston started the second half in the same way they played most of the first half. They were having plenty of the ball and almost made it four. Thear took control of free kick duties and was inches from his hat trick with the set piece fizzed just wide.
But from them, the game started to lean Stocksbridge’s way. They were having more of the ball and the likes of Mangham and Ring were getting more involved. New signing Alex O’Connor was starting to show why he was brought to the club when he was able to turn and flash a shot just over the bar.
A lot of the major chances happened after Sam Scrivens was brought on for his debut. Mangham managed to work his way through a few Dunston players before clipping his shot just wide. Scrivens himself had his first chance in a Steels shirt but his free header was sent right at Luke Connell in the Dunston net. O’Connor came close again but his edge of the box shot was saved by the palms of Connell.
Dunston would fire back though and show some of the ability that got them into the lead. Luke Porritt broke into the box on the left hand side and it would be the trailing leg of Hall which saved the day and kept Stocksbridge in the game. Thear was also lively and turned his man inside out before sending a shot right at Hall as he looked to complete his hat trick. Djalo also came close with a header from a corner that went over.
Unfortunately, Dunston capped the game off with a goal of their own. The ball was played to Lee Mason and he hit a great shot which left Hall with very little opportunity. That finished the match and made sure Dunston got all three points with their fantastic home form still in tact.