Stocksbridge Park Steels had their best performance of the season as they beat FA Vase winners Hebburn Town 5-1.
Stocksbridge got the lead early on when Josh Nodder made the most of a defensive mistake. Mangham doubled the lead through some good player and Ross Goodwin scored a goal of the season contender to make it three. Goodwin had a clearance bounce off his head and then it was five with another smart finish from Mangham. Lee Cooksey scored an own goal to get Hebburn a consolation.
Stocksbridge started in great fashion much like they did in the last match against Rossington Main. Scott Ruthven’s cross was not properly cleared by Hebburn and Nodder was able to get onto it, control and then volley in to give the Steels the lead.
The Steels were lucky that their lead lasted more than a minute though. Hebburn went on the attack from the kick off and their cross from the left went through everyone and found Tom Potter at the edge of the six yard box. Thankfully for the visitors, Potter scuffed the shot and Stocksbridge got a let off.
While Hebburn looked dangerous, Stocksbridge had the better chances and almost made it two. Nodder went clear and was looking to get his second. His shot beat Kieran Hunter in the Hornets goal but it also beat the post too.
Stocksbridge did get a second though not long after. Nodder and Mangham played the ball between them very well and this sent the Steels’ leading scorer free. He duly finished and the Steels were looking good in this game.
This was when Stocksbridge took good control of the match and looked to make this a rout. Sam Finlaw was able to evade numerous challenges before fizzing a shot over. It was his midfield partner who would get the plaudits though. Ruthven was able to control and pass the ball along to Ross Goodwin who hit an incredible effort right into the top corner. Hunter was left helpless in the Hebburn goal, though he’d have likely lost his hand if he got a touch onto it.
Stocksbridge looked more likely to get a fourth than Hebburn get one back before the end of the second half. Mangham almost connected with a bicycle kick that would have certainly captured the imagination while Hunter was able to save impressively when the striker went clear on goal towards the end of the half. Despite this, it looked good for Stocksbridge as they had a 3-0 lead going into half time.
The Steels got off to the best possible start in the second off, though it was very lucky. Hunter went to clear the ball but he didn’t spot an onrushing Goodwin. Hunter’s clearance would then smash off Goodwin’s face and head into the back of the net with the sort of luck Stocksbridge haven’t had this season.
There was some to and fro for a while then. Hebburn showed some adventure and went forward which led to Olly Martin hitting one over. At the other end, it was almost five when Ruthven put a lovely lofted ball for Nodder whose drive was well saved by Hunter, redeeming himself for the earlier embarrassment.
Stocksbridge didn’t have to wait long for their fifth. Mangham battled to beat a defender to headed down ball by Nodder and just like the first time he burst through in the second half, he finished and put the game without doubt.
Hebburn did get one back though. They were showing some promise with Martin having a few efforts which never really tested Ed Hall. They got their goal though when Amar Purewal went clear on the right. His shot was well saved by Hall but the Steels were unlucky that his save would bounce back off debutant Cooksey and into the back of the net.
Hebburn had their best patch of the game after this as they looked to perform a Tyneside miracle. But once Stocksbridge settled down and managed any to kill off any potential excitement from the Hornets, they were able to retake control of the game and stop any dark thoughts of a potential Hebburn comeback. Ruthven wasn’t far off when he headed over from a second cross after a corner was initially cleared while Hunter had to be on his best form to save a great curling shot from Kurtis Turner.
Stocksbridge did push forward and look for a sixth but in the end, they would get their biggest league win of the season so far.
MOTM: Ross Goodwin
Thank you to Richy Waugh Photography for providing photos