A late consolation wasn’t enough as Stocksbridge Park Steels lost 2-1 to AFC Emley.
The first goal came in the second half as a Metcalfe free kick found its way past the keeper into Stocksbridge’s goal. They got a second when Jack Bennet went clear after a great pass and tucked it into the bottom corner. Steels rallied late and got one back when Scott Ruthven’s free kick deflected in but they weren’t able to get a dramatic late equaliser.
Stocksbridge came out of the blocks like their feet were on fire and almost in the lead after just a minute. A quick corner routine completely dumbfounded the Emley defence, allow the Steels to loop in a ball from the left. Tom Whiting was there to head it at the far post but Emley keeper Kelly was able to claw it out.
The Steels had all of the ball and all of the chances in the first part of the first half. Reece Fielding made a rare venture forward and it almost paid off for him as he got clear in the box but his touch was too heavy and the chance went. Lewis Whitham twisted his defender out of shape on the left hand side, but his shot went out of the stadium and into the car park.
Stocksbridge should have been ahead in the 14th minute. Whitham’s cross was good and when the Emley defender missed his head, it landed at Joe Lumsden’s feet in the centre of the box. Unfortunately, the striker hit it over when it seemed like a goal was coming.
It continued to be all Stocksbridge as they had most of the ball but they lacked that final ball or touch to get the goal. That’s why it was frustrating when the Steels finally did get in the back of the net only for it to not count. The ball was hit down the right side and Whiting appeared to keep it and knocked it into the six yard box. The Emley defence were statues as they appealed for it to be a goal kick and realising the situation, Ruthven ran in and knocked the ball in. Unfortunately, the referee decided it had gone out and there was no goal here.
Towards the end of the half, Emley started to show some teeth. They had a header go over after a well hit free kick into the box and perhaps could have taken the lead after some great play gave their winger lots of space in the box but his shot beat the keeper and post, keeping it goalless going into the second half.
While the Steels did have an appeal for a penalty early in the second half when Lumsden went down in the box, Emley did grow into the game and have their chances in the second half. They really should have scored when their forward went clear. Their 9 was clear on the right, but the forward decided to go for glory himself and hit it wide and over.
Emley did get the goal though. They had a free kick close to the box after numerous Stocksbridge fouls on the right. Metcalfe struck it towards the near post and it found its way in.
They could have had a second after some nice play gave their No. 2 some space on the right of the box but thankfully, his powerful shot went past the keeper and once again, the far post.
Stocksbridge showed some threat at the other end though. Whiting was lively throughout and he hit the side netting and Whitham had a free kick which trickled just wide. The closest Stocksbridge came was when a free kick was headed back into the danger area but Ruthven hit it wide from the centre of the box.
Then Emley would punish Stocksbridge and get their second of the game. A great ball from the Pewits split the Stocksbridge defence and Bennet ran onto it and tucked the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Stocksbridge did get a consolation. The Steels got another free kick and Ruthven stepped up. He hit it well but it was the deflection that took it into the back of the net. That would be one of the final actions of the game as the referee blew for full time just a few minutes later.
MOTM: Ross Goodwin