Match Reports

Handsworth 4-2 Steels

Stocksbridge Park Steels started their pre-season with a 4-2 loss against Handsworth.

The Steels took the lead when a trialist curled a free kick in from a narrow angle. Handsworth equalised with a close range header from Dunne before a smart finish from Jimmy Ayles gave them the lead. U18 Ollie Nowack equalised before half time with a volley. In the second half, Dunne restored the Handsworth lead with a penalty kick before he ensured Handsworth’s win with a close range finish.

It took only six minutes for Stocksbridge to get their first goal of pre-season. The Steels earned a free kick when Tomas Poole was tripped on the right hand side of the box. At first, it seemed like the free kick was going to be whipped in but instead, the trialist curled it and despite Ben Townsend in the Handsworth goal getting a hand to it, it hit the back of the net.

However, Handsworth were able to completely come back with a two minute salvo. The first goal came from the Ambers’ own free kick when the set piece was knocked into the box and headed back across the six yard box before it was knocked in at the opposite side of the goal by Dunne.

A minute later, Handsworth were in the lead. Ayles was played through with a great ball and he finished smartly with a cross keeper shot past debutant Harrison Davison-Hale to put the Ambers ahead.

Stocksbridge pressed for an equaliser. There was plenty of energy from the young Steels side, with Poole and Nowack working well on either wing with both of the trial full-backs supporting them as well. Nowack would have a shot from distance after worming away from his marker but it would be right at Townsend.

Nowack would get his goal though. A fantastic pass from Poole the right found Nowack with plenty of space as he broke into the box and the young winger hit a fantastic volley that left Townsend with little chance.

Handsworth did come close to restoring their lead just before the end of their half when a forward burst clear only for them to be stopped by Davison-Hale. The forward was able to gather the ball back and send it goalwards but the astro turf denied him as an awkward bounce stopped it going over the line, meaning both teams were tied going into the break.

Stocksbridge put out an entirely different team in the second half. Kurtis Turner and Jack Tinker were the only players from last season in this side as it had a much more youthful look with many of Mark Fretwell’s U18s side out on show. It was their first experience playing against senior players of this quality and they didn’t look out of their place which was to their credit.

They came close to taking the lead as well. After some good play near to the edge of their box, the ball was played to Stocksbridge’s 14. He clipped the ball towards the goal and it smacked off the top of the right hand post, rattling the woodwork.

Unfortunately, Handsworth would be the team that got their lead back. A free kick was played into the box and a clash of bodies in the box led to the referee giving a penalty kick, though after a short delay. Dunne would step up and do a panenka penalty to beat the trialist goalkeeper who had guessed the right way.

Handsworth would get their fourth and final goal of the game not that long after. A throw-in from the right went into the box and pass across the area found Dunne. He got himself into some space and was able to finish from the edge of the six-yard box, completing a pre-season hat trick.

Stocksbridge did have a good end to the game and did have chances to get something back. They had a shot blocked on the line while another forward burst into the box only to hit the shot into the side netting. This would lead to the Steels losing their first friendly of pre-season, though the sight of many young players performing well would get Stocksbridge fans excited for the coming season.

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