Stocksbridge Park Steels picked up their first home league win of the season despite being behind three times in a 4-3 win over top of league Belper Town.
Stocksbridge went down early on due to Crouz scoring following a mistake from Crosby. The Steels pegged them back when Joe Lumsden tapped in from close range but Belper retook the lead in the second half through Sam Wright. Stocksbridge went level again when Josh Nodder’s deflected strike found its way in though once again Belper got the lead when Broadie Litchfield’s looping header went over Crosby. The turnaround came in two minutes as Luke Mangham headed in from a corner before getting the winner as he followed in when Kurtis Turner’s shot was initially saved.
Belper showed why they were top of the league very early on. The Stocksbridge defence were split after six minutes with a fantastic ball and it managed to slip under an onrushing Tom Crosby. Steve McDonnell collected the ball before it went out and played it back to Piteu Crouz who had an empty net to fire into.
The Derbyshire side looked potent in attack but while they were dangerous, Stocksbridge did start to grow into the game as it went on. Lumsden showed good strength to get into the box despite pressure from a defender but could only fire wide. Jordan Lemon followed that up with a fantastic cross into the danger area but no striker was there to be on the end of it.
However while Stocksbridge were creating chances, Belper were still dangerous at the other end. The Derbyshire side’s captain Danny South had a shot blocked before a follow up was a bit too close for comfort before going high and wide. Broadie Litchfield, who had come on for goalscorer earlier on, also peeled off his marker well to head a cross but luckily for the Steels it floated over the goal.
Stocksbridge eventually got an equaliser and their first league home goal of the season. Josh Nodder put in a corner and it was nodded down and in the scramble, Lumsden showed a true poacher’s instinct by tapping it in for the equaliser.
This gave the home side confidence and they came very close to getting the lead just moments later. Lewis Whitham’s initial shot was deflected but it eventually fell to Nodder who decided to have a go from 35 yards. Luckily for Leigh Overton in the Belper goal, it fizzed just wide but would have been a contender for goal of the season had it found its way in.
The referee was happy to give free kicks in this game and both sides came close to profiting from it towards the end of the half. Reece Fielding came close to a rare goal for him when a clearance landed at his feet but he slipped as he shot and it lacked the power to get past Overton who comfortably saved. At the other end, Belper wasted a chance as a well worked routine finished with McDonnell volleying over.
Like in the first half, Stocksbridge started the second half slowly and were punished for it. Gary Rhodes put in a fantastic cross and at the far post was Wright who was unmarked and headed in to give Belper the lead again.
Stocksbridge were soon level though even if it was a bit fortuitious. Nodder tried a shot from range and it took a heavy deflection on a defender, wrongfooted Overton and the ball tucked itself in the bottom corner.
This is where Stocksbridge would have hoped to use the momentum to go on and win the game. Instead, it was Belper who took control. They pressed instantly and came close a few times to retaking the lead. Crosby had to be alert to win a one-on-one and then when McDonnell did beat the keeper when one-on-one, his lob went just wide even though the Belper fans had already started to cheer it going in.
Despite the mockery sent to those Belper fans, they did get their chance to respond when their inevitable third went in. Stocksbridge did not properly clear a corner and allowed it be looped back in again. Litchfield, who had been lively since coming on, finally got his goal when he curled his header over Crosby and into the back of the net.
The game quietened down for a while as Belper looked to kill the game off and they were successfully limiting Stocksbridge. Whitham did get one in the back of the net but it was clear it was offside early on into the move.
The game would turn around on its ahead in a mad two minutes. Mangham’s audacious long range effort was well saved by Overton, but he injured himself in the process. From the following corner, Mangham powered a header home to make it 3-3. The celebration for the goal was far more impressive as he showed off his gymnastics skills in something that was very reminiscent of former Newcastle United striker Lomano LuaLua!
A minute later, Stocksbridge got the lead for the first time in the match. Turner took the opportunity to shoot when he had some space in the midfield and it was well saved by Overton. It was followed up by Mangham though who was a true fox in the box as he scored what would be the winner.
Belper pressed forward as they looked for a winner and there some dangerous balls which caused a few heart in mouths among the Stocksbridge fans. But the Steels held on for their first home win in the league and a great victory over the team topping the table.