Stocksbridge Park Steels had the best warm-up possible for theBBC Sport cameras as they beat Ramsbottom United 2-1 in a pre-season friendly,but it could have been won by a bigger margin.
The opening goal came from Josh Nodder as he made the most of a Ramsbottom mistake to go clear and hit it past the goalkeeper. Ramsbottom did go level later in the first half when a trialist got enough space to lash in a shot from inside the box. But the game was won in spectacular fashion when Nodder scored an audacious chip from 20 yards out.
Stocksbridge had the first major chance of the game. Some good passing on the right wing was able to put Jordan Lemon clear on the right wing and was able to put a low ball into the box. Scott Ruthven got onto the end of it but the trailing leg of the Ramsbottom Trialist goalkeeper kept things goalless.
While Ramsbottom would have a number of corners in the first half, none of them came to anything. Stocksbridge created the better chances and the trialist was tested again with Ruthven showed some good footwork on the edge of the box to create some space for himself before hitting a low shot that the trialist goalkeeper was able to palm away.
Considering all of the chances so far had come from Stocksbridge, it was no surprise that they drew first blood. Ramsbottom’s defensive mix-up was picked up by Josh Nodder who ran clear in front of goal and hit the ball across the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
After the goal, Ramsbottom did come into the game a bit more with Jamie Rother having a few shots for them. But Stocksbridge came very close to doubling their lead when a fantastic ball from Nodder put Kurt Turner free on goal with no one around him. Unfortunately, his chip didn’t come off and the trialist goalkeeper was able to claim the ball.
Stocksbridge would then be punished for not taking their chances. Ramsbottom’s Number Nine, also a trialist, was able to find space at the left of the box and smashed the ball past Ed Hall who wasn’t left with much of a chance.
It could have got worse for the Steels just before the half ended as well. Mason Fawns put a fantastic ball into the box and the Ramsbottom Number Nine was inches from knocking it in at the far post.
In the second half, Stocksbridge did have to survive an early scare when a scramble after a Ramsbottom corner went just wide. But it was the home side who’d take control afterwards and the winning goal would come in the 56th minute.
Not long after he tried something similar from much further out, Nodder spotted the trialist goalkeeper out of his six yard box. He then pulled off a fantastic chip which dipped just under the bar to give him an early goal of the season candidate.
Nodder could have had the match ball not long after. He was able to get past the Ramsbottom goalkeeper but was only able to hit the post after being forced to a narrow angle. Ruthven was able to follow up but his shot was blocked by the mass of Ramsbottom defenders who had flooded their goal to prevent them going further down.
The game would settle down after that but Stocksbridge did have to survive a late flurry from Ramsbottom. Their Number 12, another trialist, get the ball towards the goal and past Hall but
Lemon was able to save the day and claw the ball away. A follow up shot by yet another trialist was then put over the goal. The Number 12 was very close to scoring again just two minutes later but he wasn’t able to get on the end of Mason Fawns’ cross.
A few tough challenges saw tensions rise at the end but Stocksbridge held out and got a confidence boosting win.
Stocksbridge will host Stalybridge Celtic in the FA Cup next time in a game in front of the BBC Sport cameras. Ramsbottom will have a home match against Irlam, also in the FA Cup