Stocksbridge Park Steels are out of the FA Trophy after losing 2-0 to Widnes.
The Steels suffered with some bad luck with the first after John McGrath’s shot deflected past Hall. But his second was down to skill rather than luck as he ran across the width of the pitch before firing in.
While Stocksbridge started off with a lot of the ball, it was Widnes who struck first. A defensive mix-up gave McGrath the space to have a shot and it deflected off a defender and past Ed Hall.
It was a first half of very few chances as both defences stood firm to limit the attacks. However another mix-up at the back from the Steels gave Widnes the chance to double their lead. Samuel Adetiloye latched onto a poor pass and raced clear to go one-on-one with Hall. However, Hall won the battle and saved the shot to force a corner which came to nothing.
The first real sight of goal for Stocksbridge other than some crosses that weren’t far off being connected with was a free kick, earned after Lewis Whitham was tripped. Luke Mangham stepped up to take it and hit the shot under the wall but it ended up being right at Owen Wheeler in the Widnes net.
Both sides had good chances before the half ended. Widnes captain Michael Burke would have cursed not getting a goal when he had a free header from a corner that he put over. At the other end, Whitham went on a good run, hit a good crossfield pass to Nathaniel Crofts whose fizzing shot ended up being right at Wheeler. Not long after, a defensive header bounced out to Sam Finlaw whose powerful shot made Wheeler work for his save. Despite a decent flurry at the end for the Steels, they’d go into half time behind.
Widnes came out firing in the second half as they looked to get a second. James Steele received a nice pass but his tame shot was right at Hall. McGrath also went for his second after going on a run but his shot eventually went over.
The Steels were having a lot of the ball and tried to make the most of it but a creditable Widnes defence made sure to keep them out. Stocksbridge weren’t far off though when Kurtis Turner’s powerful shot forced a very impressive save from Owen Wheeler. The resulting corner was headed into the arms of Wheeler by Liam McFadyen. Turner wasn’t far off later on either but that shot was saved at the near post.
Not long after Finlaw had another effort, which trickled just wide of the post, Widnes came close. They swept in a great cross from the right and Steele got a touch on it at the near post but Hall was there to make an impressive save.
But it doesn’t matter how much of the ball you have, if you don’t put it in the back of the net you will be punished. And that’s what happened. McGrath got hold of the ball and run across the pitch before finishing across his body and the ball finding the bottom of the corner.
Stocksbridge did push to see if they could get something back before the end of the game. But efforts from Luke Mangham and Josh Nodder were off target and the Steels will have to wait another year for any success in the Trophy.
MOTM: Nathaniel Crofts