Stocksbriddge Park Steels took their chances on their way to a 5-2 win over Hebburn Town.
On a windy day, Sam Finlaw gave the Steels the lead when his long range shot took advantage of the conditions to float in. The lead was doubled when Luke Mangham scored from close range. Hebburn got one back through a tidy finish by Oliver Martin but the second half saw the game turn back in the Steels favour. Josh Nodder scored after an initial shot was blocked off the line before he picked out Mangham brilliantly so he could finish. A Finlaw set piece landed at the feet of Mangham who took the chance to become a hat trick hero.
The gales typical to Stocksbridge were always going to play a part in this game but it probably wasn’t expected to make an impact so early. The ball found its way to Finlaw who decided to have a go from around 35-yards out. The wind took it and baffled the Hebburn keeper who was unable to stop it from going into the back of the net.
In what was quickly becoming reminiscent of the away match at Hebburn when Stocksbridge ran out as 5-1 winners, they soon doubled their lead. Nodder got it to Mangham in the box and from close range he finished to give the Steels a comfortable lead.
To Hebburn’s credit, they fought back well and started to take control of the game. They would soon test new goalkeeper Michael Roxburgh who was making his debut after signing earlier in the week from Huddersfield Town. A set piece from Tom Potter fell to Jack Donaghy who volleyed goalwards for the 19-year-old goalkeeper to pull off an impressive save. He’d be quick again to save from Martin before Reece Fielding made sure Amar Purewal couldn’t follow it up.
It was inevitable that Hebburn would score though and eventually they had one back. Martin, coming off the back of a hat trick in his last game, was able to turn his defender after advancing into the box before curling it past Roxburgh to make sure he didn’t get a clean sheet on his debut.
There would be some controversy at the end of the first half though. Finlaw’s corner would loop into the box and eventually into the goal with Ross Goodwin claiming he had the final touch. After a celebration and everyone returning to position for the kick off, the referee instead decided there was a push on the goalkeeper, ruling out the goal and meaning Stocksbridge had just a one goal advantage going into half time.
Stocksbridge got off to a great start in the second half with Mangham being played in on the left hand side but his shot was well saved by Foden. Though it was Hebburn who might feel aggrieved at this point. Martin went clear before finishing smartly but this time the linesman ruled for offside so that was the second goal of the game disallowed.
Hebburn continued to put pressure on but despite that, the Steels got the next goal. Nat Crofts worked well to get the ball to Mangham and while his shot beat Foden, it was blocked on the line by a defender. Luck was on Stocksbridge’s side as the ball fell to Nodder who smashed in to restore their two goal advantage.
This was when the game really turned in Stocksbridge’s favour as they were able to get the commanding lead they had back in Hebburn. Nodder got the ball on the left but most of the players were with him on the left wing. There was only Mangham in the box but the winger managed to find Stocksbridge’s top scorer who when getting the ball, duly finished.
The fifth came not long after. Finlaw’s corner was headed back across the goalmouth where Mangham was there to knock in to get his hat trick. It capped off an impressive performance by the striker who shot himself up the Northern Premier League scoring charts.
You had to respect how Hebburn continued to battle despite the fact they were truly out of the game as well. They did get their reward for it though. A corner was cleared to Dan Groves who hit a powerful strike which evaded the defence and Roxburgh to find its way into the back of the net.
Ben Partridge, who was impressive coming off the bench, came close to getting a sixth but his run ended with his shot going wide. It was then when the referee decided to end the game, gifting Stocksbridge their best home league win of the season so far.