Stocksbridge Park Steels ended their home campaign with a big 5-2 win over play-off chasing Dunston.
The Steels took the lead in the first half with a long range effort from Nathaniel Crofts. They doubled their lead with Rob Ludlam’s header from a corner kick. Dunston got one back through a good strike from Michael Fowler but Nick Guest instantly replied with a tidy finish. Josh Nodder scored an audacious volley to make it four, and two penalties later Dunston had one back when Phillip Turnbull converted from the spot. The win was sealed with Alex O’Connor scoring after making the most of a goalkeeping error.
Very little happened in the early parts of the match with perhaps Dunston edging the game. They did have more of the possession at the very least. The biggest opportunity on goal was when Dunston had a free kick close to the edge of the box but Phillip Turnbull hit that set piece into the wall.
It was from that set piece that Stocksbridge got their goal. After that effort failed, the Steels got on the counter attack and soon had the ball at the other end of the pitch. The ball fell to Crofts and while he could have advanced it forward, he instead had a go from 25-yards and Lee Connell had little chance of making a save from the impressive strike which would soon burst his net and give Stocksbridge the lead.
Dunston though could have been level a minute later. They had a free kick in a similar position to the time before but instead of going for the shot, Turnbull played it short to an unmarked Luke Porritt on the left. His cross was tantalising and went across the six yard box but lacked the man in the middle to tap it in.
While Dunston probably had more of the ball for the rest of the first half, it was Stocksbridge who looked more likely to score. Luke Mangham will have been cursing himself when he skewed a shot wide from inside the box when it fell favourably to him. Jordan Lemon’s ball into the box, which did feel like it was going to be a shot until it started going well wide, was headed back into the danger zone by Mangham only for Connell to claim well and make sure the Steels lead was only 1-0 at half time.
Stocksbridge got off to the best possible start in the second half. The Steels attack had been fairly calamitous in the build-up with miskicks galore but it did earn them a corner. The corner was sent in and flicked on by Mangham at the near post for Ludlam to head in his first ever Stocksbridge goal. With his son as the mascot for the day, it was the perfect time to finally get on the scoresheet for the Steels.
Dunston did soon have one back through. They had been struggling to break through the back four so Fowler instead decided to have a go from just outside the area. His shot curled away from an unsighted Michael Roxburgh and the North East side were back in the game.
But they weren’t back in it for very long. Stocksbridge were immediately back on it and Guest was able to break through to go one-on-one on goal. When getting into the box, he did instead went for svelte trickery rather than power as he unexpectedly sent an accurate finish past Connell at his near post, scoring his first goal for the club on his first start.
Guest would be a constant problem for Dunston as his confidence helped him get closer and closer to a second goal. First, he was prevented from doubling his tally when his header was well saved by Connell. Then, he would go clear once again and tried a very audacious lob only for that one to go well over.
Stocksbridge would get another goal and it’d be one to remember. Nodder received the ball from around 25-yards out. He’d knock it up into the air himself before volleying an effort that a Premier League forward would be proud of, never mind a Step 8 player. Even some of the travelling Dunston fans couldn’t help but admire a strike that good.
Dunston weren’t done yet though and would get an opportunity when Ross Goodwin fouled a Dunston attacker in the box. Galbraith stepped up but would slam the ball onto the post and it’d be cleared out for a corner.
But sometimes, you get a bit lucky and can have another go! Dunston got another spot kick after a corner was sent in though the foul was unclear to the watching fans. Turnbull decided to grab the ball this time and he made no mistake, firing it above a diving Roxburgh.
But any hope of an unlikely comeback would soon be over. Connell struggled to control the ball and O’Connor robbed him before finishing from a narrow angle. It was the perfect way to end the game and seal a big win for Stocksbridge.