Stocksbridge Park Steels managed to draw 1-1 with top of the table Belper Town despite being reduced to ten men.
It was going to be a stern test for the Steels as a Belper side looking to immediately return to the Northern Premier League Premier Division. And the Nailers could have been ahead soon into the game. The Steels defence were caught out by a long ball forward which Kevin Bastos got onto the end of. He raced into a one-on-one situation but he overplayed it by passing it to Revarnelle James, who then tried to pass back to Bastos. Kurtis Turner was able to get back and make the tackle to stop the opportunity.
While Belper had most of the ball in the first half, towards the end things were starting to change with the Steels growing into the game. There were some big chances for Stocksbridge as Luke Rawson blared a finish over the bar while Elliot Murray had a free header but couldn’t follow up his goal on Saturday against Carlton Town, instead steering it over the bar.
The second half would begin with controversy. Tomas Poole whipped in a free kick but Jonathan Hedge caught the ball, juggling it before getting under control. Ross Goodwin saw a chance with the ball initially not being claimed cleanly, and went for the ball but collided with the goalkeeper. The referee took some time with the decision before sending Goodwin off, shocking the crowd.
Stocksbridge were down to ten men but it seemed to boost them. In the end, it led to the Steels taking the lead. Belper’s high line was caught out by a long ball and Luke Rawson breezed past everyone before getting onto the ball. He then rounded Hedge before the simple finish marked his 10th goal of the season.
There was almost a goal of the season contender as well. Hedge was one of the people pushing forward as part of Belper trying to score and when the Nailers lost the ball in midfield, it fell to Poole inside his own half. Spotting Hedge off his line, he went for the shot and he beat the goalkeeper. The stadium held its breath but it would end up going just wide.
Belper would throw everything at Stocksbridge and despite some good defensive work, the Nailers eventually broke down the Steels. A ball into the box was headed onto the post by Danny South who had been sent up to cause as much chaos as possible in the Stocksbridge defence. The ball ricocheted in the box but James managed to poach a goal and equalise. It meant Stocksbridge weren’t able to claim an impressive short handed win, but a draw against the top of table Belper is still an impressive result.