A resolute, stylish, and thoroughly professional performance from the Steels Reserves condemned undefeated league leaders Swinton Athletic to their first defeat in almost two years, and also saw Holmshaw’s men win two home games on the bounce.
First half goals from Martell Daswell, Luke Webster and Joshua Wain rocketed the Steels into what seemed to be a comfortable, if not slightly unexpected, lead. By the time the second half came the Steels were already showing their metal again, with thanks to Charlie Cope and Webster again Stocksbridge ran riot, and makes it six points from the last two home games.
For a fixture in which the home side seemed unlikely victors the Steels set about proving any doubters wrong in the first few minutes, after beating the offside trap Wain fizzed the ball into the box, it fell to Webster who admittedly wasn’t expecting it but couldn’t keep his header on target.
Some impressive work from Daswell saw him drive at the visiting defence in a foray forward, the resulting cross caused utter chaos in the Swinton box and Daswell himself was there to reap the rewards firing into the corner from inside the box.
Swinton’s only real response was a mid cross into the Steels box but William Bond in the Steels goal was alert to the danger, minutes later, following the run of play, the Steels earned a corner which was floated into the box and it was Webster who got off the mark to double the Steels’ lead with a powerful downward header.
Swinton were struggling to cope with unrelenting Steels assaults and failed to break through a back line which refused to yeild, soaking up almost all the pressure, but not quite all; the visitors thought they had a lifeline with a quick counter attack during which the visitor’s number 8 drew the keeper from his line before squaring it his fellow forward who, somehow, smashed against the bar.
The visitors were visibly frustrated as their unbeaten record crumbled, and this was evident when the ever impressive Daswell contorted the Swinton defence, only to be clattered inside the box forcing the referee’s hand into awarding a penalty. However, this wasn’t to be the end of the matter as the man in the middle then drew his red card and sent off the Swinton number 3. Joshua Wain stepped up to the mark and slotted the penalty away to the keeper’s right.
There was some concern just before half time when Luke Battle bore the brunt of a free kick in the face, it is thought that he a suffered concussion however this will be assessed.
Swinton threw themselves into the second half, desperate to claw back the game, the visitors found themselves bearing down on goal but a strong hand from the Steels custodian denied them yet again.
Some more individual finesse from Cope saw him twist and turn but ultimately fail to make it count, firing wide of the upright. Minutes later, he found himself beating the offside trap, and made no mistake in despatching the ball where it needed to be to make it four.
Just when things seemingly couldn’t get any better for Stocksbridge, second half sub Aaron McHale launched the ball into the box fancying his chances to get it to a fellow yellow and blue shirt, and that it did. The hanging ball dropped inch-perfectly to Webster who had the task of directing it into the back of the net which was fulfilled with a laser-guided header into the bottom corner for his second of the game.
A sublime performance, both collectively and individually, which fires them back into playoff contention and will surely do nothing but favours for the Steels Reserves in their upcoming cup fixture at South Elmsall.