Stocksbridge Park Steels claimed their first win of the season with a 3-2 victory over Pickering Town.
The Steels took the lead when Lewis Whitham took on a few before hitting a good shot. Pickering turned the game around with Jackson Jowett scoring from close range and then a great header from Wayne Brooksby. Stocksbridge though came back thanks to a good distance effort from Ross Goodwin and then a winning volley from Scott Ruthven.
There was some good play to start out with as both sides wanted to get the ball down and play good football. This worked out better for Pickering to begin with. They had a decent opportunity when Jamie Thornton went on a tricky run and laid it off to Jowett who would hit over. They also had a few set pieces that came to nothing.
The first big chance went Stocksbridge’s way. It came from a long throw-in on the right with Luke Mangham heading back to Nathaniel Crofts. The winger couldn’t get his body over it and hit it over though. Pickering would go down the other end and get another chance where they should have scored as Jordan Deacey hit over from close range.
The Steels would take the lead with their first league goal of the campaign! Whitham turned his defender inside and out before firing in, making sure Stocksbridge would also have their first lead of the season.
Unfortunately, Pickering were level within minutes. Thornton went on another tricky run, something Stocksbridge did have an issue dealing with, passed it to Jowett and this time he had no issue tucking it in, though it needed the help of the post.
Stocksbridge pushed to retake the lead quickly and were denied by the woodwork a couple of times in a similar fashion to what happened at Stockton. Whitham once again turned his defender like the pages of a good book but this time the Pikes were saved by a defender toepoke which pushed it onto the post. Then another long throw caused problems as a Pickering defender was forced to head onto his own post in order to keep it level.
These chances made it more brutal when Pickering took the lead. Dominic Joynes from left back went on a great run from his position and his cross went over the Steels defence to find Brooksby at the far post whose header looped in.
But Stocksbridge heads did not bow and they would soon get back in it. Mangham had a close range effort saved but the goal wouldn’t be too far away. Crofts’ initial effort was saved and cleared but it fell to Goodwin who hit it clean and right into the bottom corner.
Stocksbridge pressed to take the lead before the end of the first half. Whitham came close with a quick free quick routine but the goal would come from some very good play. Crofts was found with a great ball on the right. He then played it back to Jordan Lemon who lofted it forwards for Ruthven to volley into the far post and give the Steels the lead right before the half ended.
The second half started with Pickering putting some pressure on the Steels defence as they looked to equaliser right away. They tried a free kick routine but that only ended with Thornton hitting it well wide. A cleared ball also fell to Lewis Taylor but that went over after he took a touch.
The game was much cagier in the second half with far fewer chances, though this was to the Steels liking as they looked to protect their lead. While it was a more defensive outlook for Stocksbridge, they still had their chances. Whitham continued to have his fun by taking players on and this time his shot was saved by Adam Kelsey. Goodwin wasn’t far off adding his second of the game when he headed over.
Stocksbridge did look more likely to score again. If Mangham was a few inches taller he’d have been able to connect with a great cross from Whitham and there was a move where Ruthven and Crofts were just centimetres from connecting, though this ended with Mangham heading the ball into the keeper’s arms. Ruthven also could have had a second when a long throw landed at his feet but his turn and shot went over.
Pickering did cause a fright at the other end as the game closed in on full time. They played some decent football and it gave Jack Johnson some space in the Steels box. He had a great chance to score but thankfully it went tamely over, letting the home side off.
The Steels took control again and could have had a fourth when Crofts was denied by a fantastic sliding tackle, but in the end it would be a 3-2 win; Stocksbridge’s first win of the season and a big boost for caretaker boss Lee Thompson.
MOTM: Lewis Whitham