Stocksbridge Park Steels never looked in it as they crashed out of the FA Trophy following a 4-0 loss to Marske United.
Connor Smith scored the opening goal with a speculative effort before adding to his tally with an individual effort where he ran through the Stocksbridge defence before finishing. Before the end of the first Glen Butterworth scored a great free kick and the game was truly killed off when Kevin Burgess headed in from a corner.
Stocksbridge have conceded early in some of their recent games and it almost happened again here. Good passing from Marske gave Lewis Johnson the space to shoot and it was going into the bottom corner before a vital block from the Steels kept them in the game. A few minutes later Stocksbridge had another scare when Kevin Burgess headed just wide from a corner.
The Steels did have a few half chances at the other end. Luke Mangham chipped a ball into the box but Josh Nodder wasn’t able to get a clean head onto it and could only knock it on wide. Nodder came close again when he had plenty of time to pick his spot but his powerful shot whistled just wide.
Marske were having most of the ball and most of the chances. Jack Blackford had a great chance to give them the lead when he went clear in the box but Hall got low to make the save from close range. Marske had another golden opportunity when Matthew Tymon headed the ball back to Johnson but he didn’t get a clean connection and Hall made the save.
The Marske goal was coming though no one would have wanted it in the circumstances it happened. Smith decided to have a speculative effort from range and Hall couldn’t get a clean pair of hands on to it, leading it to bobble over his diving figure and go in.
Marske continued to press and they weren’t too far off getting the second. There were some more speculative efforts from them as they continued to test Hall and his save from Blackford which bounced onto the ground before going out caused a few hearts in mouths.
Then the second goal came. It was Smith once again who waltzed through the box completely untouched before smartly finishing to give Marske a comfortable lead.
Stocksbridge tried to fire back instantly but it ended up working out worse for them. Lewis Whitham capitalised on a rare error from the Marske side and then rounded Ryan Catterick in their goal before a great challenge from Burgess managed to clear it. In the tangle though, both went down injured with Whitham coming of the worst. The young winger was then stretchered off in a big blow to the home side.
The first half would get even worse before it was over. Marske got a free kick and after a long wait due to an injury to Nodder, one which would force him off at the half, Butterworth curled it into the top corner.
In the second half, Stocksbridge did come out with some more energy as they looked to finish the game with some respect and dignity. Johnny Pugh, who had come on for Whitham in the first half, was looking to make the most of his opportunity and was the source of many of the Steels attacks in this part of the game. He had a few chances but the best came when he picked the ball on the halfway line and ran through the defence but Catterick was on hand to make the save.
Mangham also had a great chance to score. A low free kick was sent into the box and Mangham’s initial header was blocked. He was alive to the ball and collected inside the box but his next shot deflected over the bar. The following corner almost created a goal as well but Toby Kenyon’s first shot was blocked and Reece Fielding’s header didn’t have enough on it to test Catterick.
But Stocksbridge would soon learn you can have as many near misses as you want but what matters is putting the ball in the back of net. Marske taught them this cruel lesson as they well and truly killed the game off. It was a simple corner and a simple header from Burgess which made it four to Marske and made sure their name was in the hat for the next round of the FA Trophy.
Stocksbridge did get close to a consolation a number of times, notably when Pugh’s diving header when just wide and also when Scott Ruthven was just inches away from tapping in a great cross from Michael Trench. But in the end, there would be nothing to celebrate for the Steels as they went out at the hands of Marske.