Stocksbridge Park Steels claimed their first away win of the season with a dramatic 1-0 win over Pontefract Collieries.
The Steels got the first goal when Sam Finlaw scored his first goal since joining the Steels. Jordan Lemon would then be sent off for handling on line to prevent a definite goal, with Ed Hall making a crucial save to get the win.
The game started off cagey as either team struggled to get a hold of the ball. The first chance came from a free kick after Josh Nodder was fouled outside the box. However that set piece was sent comfortably over by the same man who earned the foul.
Pontefract, who had a massive game in the FA Cup against Halifax Town waiting for them after this, pressed forward. Their first chance of the game came when Vaughan Redford had a powerful shot which was saved by Ed Hall. Hall did spill the ball, but no one was able to latch on.
Stocksbridge tried to press at the front and it did create a few opportunities for them. Rob Ludlam stayed up and after dispossessing the defender, his cross was actually closer to dipping in rather than connecting with attacker, causing some nervy moments for the Pontefract defenders. Nodder also was able to rob a defender, but his shot was way over.
Pontefract could consider themselves unlucky not to take the lead. They had a good cross from the right which Eli Hey got something onto and it lofted onto the bar and then bounced back onto the bar before going out. There was definitely some heart palpitations caused for the travelling Stocksbridge fans at that moment!
Stocksbridge continued to press forward and get better in the game until they created their first clear cut chance which ended up being a goal. Luke Mangham passed his man, advanced and instead of taking a shot no one could have blamed him for taking, he spotted an onrushing Finlaw and he passed it across for the midfielder to net his first goal in Steels colours. It would send Stocksbridge into the second half with a lead.
Pontefract immediately came out in the second half looking for an equaliser. They weren’t too far off when Hey burst with speed on the left and his cross was inches away from an onrushing Redford in the middle. It wasn’t far off making it into net at the far post either!
Pontefract continued to press and weren’t far off not long afterwards. Derry Robson went on a mazy run that would have given Steels nightmares of John McGrath’s goal for Widnes at the weekend. This time though, his shot was well blocked and cleared.
With Pontefract pressing forward, there was some space for Stocksbridge to exploit in the counter attack. That is something they did. Not long after Nodder created his own half chance for it to be saved, they almost had one. Pontefract keeper Paul Musselwhite rushed out to clear and his clearance was poor. It fell to Nodder who had the shot, but a Pontefract defender made a crucial block.
The key break was through Whitham, whose pace was a real issue for the Pontefract defence in the second half. He crossed the ball and just as it was about to fall to Mangham, Pontefract made a crucial clearance. It was similar when the roles were flipped between Mangham and Whitham later with Pontefract doing very well to keep the deficit down.
With the game coming to a close, Pontefract were really pushing for an equaliser. It really should have been level when the Collieries broke through similar to Finlaw’s goal for Stocksbridge earlier. However this time as the ball was played centrally, Elliot Walker made an incredible tackle to keep the Steels ahead.
There would be some late drama. There was a scramble in the Stocksbridge box and Joao Rangel had a clear shot on goal but Jordan Lemon would make a save that Ed Hall would be proud of. A penalty was duly given, with Lemon given his marching orders. After a long delay due to Lemon taking his time to get off the pitch, Pontefract took the penalty for it to be saved by Hall! It was a fantastic moment that was cheered like a goal by the travelling supporters.
Stocksbridge weren’t far off scoring at the end due to a break which ended with a Scott Ruthven shot being well saved but in the end what mattered was not conceding and that’s what they were able to do to claim their first away win of the season.
MOTM: Rob Ludlam