Stocksbridge Park Steels were left frustrated as they lost 2-1 to Stockport Town in a pre-season friendly.
Town got the lead right from the off when their number 9 rounded Hall to score. Stocksbridge got an equaliser with a cool finish from Luke Mangham but Stockport got the win when their 7 had a free header at the far post.
It started off in the worst possible way for Stocksbridge. A long ball came over the top for the Stockport 9 to latch onto and he did his job perfectly, going past an onrushing Ed Hall and simply finishing to give the hosts the lead.
But Stocksbridge weren’t behind for too long. The Steels pressed the Stockport defence and got their reward when Declan Slater won the ball. He then was able to evade a challenge and pass the ball to Mangham who was as cool as ice as he curled it past the keeper to equalise.
It was an end to end game, though the better chances were going Stockport’s way. They made the most of an error from Oscar Seth to get the ball in a prime position, but Hall was aware to it and had come off his line to make sure it stayed level. They also came close when they sent a teasing ball across the box that only needed a tap to tuck it in but luckily for Stocksbridge, it past everyone and went wide.
Stockport did get their goal though. They went down the left and and while the initial cross was blocked, they got another chance and chipped it across to the number 7 at the far post who was free to head it in.
It could have got far worse. The Stockport 9 continued to cause issues for the Steels defence and his square ball was perfect the oncoming striker but his strike was impressively saved by Hall. A similar chance was presented to Stockport not long after but this went worse for Town as after 9 played the ball across and past Hall, the striker scuffed and sent the ball wide, missing the open goal.
Stocksbridge did grow more into the game as the first half progressed. Lewis Whitham was causing issues down the right wing for Stocksbridge and did have a shot that went wide after the defence was able to force him wide. Slater also went for glory when given the space, but that also went wide. So while Stocksbridge were getting better, they went into half time behind.
The Steels came out of the traps early in the second half as they looked to get an equaliser. Just a minute in, Sam Finlaw’s powerful shot earned a corner after being blocked wide and Tom Whiting had a half chance with his shot being deflected over.
Despite that, Stockport remained dangerous at the other end of the pitch. They had a free kick in a dangerous position that was heading for the bottom corner if not for Hall making an impressive save. Town really should have had a third when their 11 was able to turn the Stocksbridge defence to give himself plenty of space in the box but an excellent reflex save from Hall kept the Steels in the game.
Stocksbridge had most of the ball in the second half but were frustrated as they were prevented from creating clear cut opportunities. Stockport did a good job on blocking crosses and getting into position quickly to prevent any breaks from the Steels doing any real damage. There were some moments such as Scott Ruthven hitting over after being given a chance to control in the box and Lee Thompson’s powerful shot from wide being blocked, but nothing truly clear cut. In the end, that’s what made sure Stocksbridge were not able to travel back across the Pennines with a win.
MOTM: Ed Hall