Stocksbridge Park Steels continued their brilliant pre-season a young side beat Chesterfield 2-0.
The notable thing about the team was how many young players that have come through the Steels pathway starting. There were a few seniors in the side but other than Ben Townsend, who had the captain’s armband, all were under the age of 23. This matched up well with a Chesterfield side who also fielded a young side but also had veteran Danny Rowe leading the line.
Unfortunately, the game would start on a bad note. After going for a header, Lucas Bell collided with a defender before landing badly on his arm. Sam Ewans would treat him on the pitch and continue to do so when he was forced to go off. Reserves manager Mark Fretwell, who was assisting Pete Goldstraw in Ian Richards’ absence, would confirm on social media that Bell had broken his arm and would require an operation.
Stocksbridge would have control of the first half and it was no surprise to the watching fans who had braved the rain that it was the Steels who took the lead. Good play down the left gave the ball to Luca Defalco who slipped the ball to Luke Rawson. He controlled the ball well before smashing in a shot right footed to give Stocksbridge the lead. It was a particularly important goal for Rawson as he had attended his great grandfather’s funeral earlier in the day. His great grandfather was a massive Chesterfield fan who had passed on his love for the Spireites to Luke, and Rawson paid the best possible tribute by scoring against his former team.
The Steels would continue to impress until the end of the first half. Rawson came close to a second when more good footwork took him past a defender before his curling shot went wide of the far post. Austin had impressed at right-back and one marauding run took him into the box but his shot was saved at the near post. The Steels were in the ascendancy and leading 1-0 at the break.
More youth players came on in the second half with Alex O’Connor eventually becoming the most senior player after Townsend was replaced by Dan Emery in goal. And Stocksbridge would go on to get their second through one of the young players that had come up. Chesterfield were trying to pass from the back but Charlie Wragg, bizarrely high up the pitch despite his centre-back position, tackled the defender, advanced on the goal and scored with a finish that was anything but a defender’s typical shot.
Stocksbridge were very strong in this game and really pushed to make it 3-0. Defalco had been mostly creator but almost turned scorer when his good footwork bamboozled the Chesterfield defence but his close range finish was saved at the near post. Matty Lee, making his senior team debut, had a burst of pace into the box and got past his defenders before sending his shot just wide.
Chesterfield did struggle to get into the game but they did get very close to one. Their midfielder had a shot from distance that crashed off the bar and onto the line before bouncing out. Emery had not conceded in pre-season yet but this was the closest he had come to conceding during this summer. But in the end, the young Stocksbridge team achieved a great win against the professional Chesterfield XI.