Stocksbridge Park Steels battled but just couldn’t get a result as they lost 3-2 to rivals Worksop Town.
James Baxendale gave Worksop an early lead with a good drive from outside the box. Stocksbridge equalised when Luke Mangham was able to lob the keeper from distance. Worksop retook the lead through Hardy getting the luck of the bounce before finishing, though just after the half Mangham equalised with a tap in. Worksop would win the game thanks to Hardy heading in from a corner.
Unfortunately, it was Worksop who got off to the better start. After a second successive corner, the ball was cleared to EFL veteran James Baxendale, who showed his experience by duly smashing it into the bottom corner, giving Hall little chance to save it.
Worksop continued to put pressure on to see if they could kill this game early on. But they pushed too much and would be a caught. A big ball over the top caught out their defence and Mangham was able to latch onto it. With a deft touch he lobbed the onrushing Tiernan Brooks to score a fantastic effort and put the Steels level.
There was some drama not long after as it went end-to-end. A Worksop header had to be cleared away by a defender at the last moment as it looked to be heading goalwards. The ball was cleared and it caught Worksop out again, with Mangham running in order to get a repeat of his first. This time, Brooks got there first and was able to clear.
The game was even and it often requires a bit of luck to get the lead again. That is what Worksop got. A Stocksbridge clearance bounced back off one of our own players and fell like a gift to Hardy. He would have been offside had it been a Worksop pass but as it wasn’t, he had all the time in the world to score, and so he went on a did exactly that.
Stocksbridge pressed to try and get back into the game. They showed some good passing outside the box which Sam Finlaw the chance to make it two goals in two for him. His shot though would be right at Brooks. A massive chance came for the Steels later on when Mangham went one-on-one with Brooks but his shot would skew wide.
Worksop remained dangerous though and could have doubled their lead going into half time. First, Hardy had a great chance to score when he was played clear in the box but his powerful strike would go wide. He was then close to latching onto a poor Stocksbridge back pass but Ed Hall was alert and he cleared. This meant Worksop only led by one going into the second half.
Stocksbridge got off to the best start possible in the second half. Elliott Walker’s cross caused plenty of problems and the initial shot from it was blocked off the line. It was then followed up by Mangham who finished to get his second of the day.
The Steels would have been thinking about going on to win this but Worksop immediately retook the lead. Their corner was whipped in and headed back across by Jake Picton for Hardy to get his second goal.
Hardy, a new signing at Worksop, caused a lot of problems for the Stocksbridge defence. He went clear a few times, one time with the day being saved by Rob Ludlam who followed up his Man of the Match performances on Tuesday with a crucial challenge. Later in the game, he beat his man to go clear but smashed his shot into the side netting, though some of the home fans thought it had gone in.
Stocksbridge did have a few chances of their own. Mangham headed the ball back for Josh Nodder and his effort looked goalbound until a defender’s block deflected it over. Not long after, a cross bobbled in the Worksop box until Kurtis Turner was able to hit it, but unfortunately it was just wide.
Stocksbridge’s best chance may have actually gone in. Walker’s cross caused chaos on the right and Lumsden appeared to have sent it goalwards though there was a block over the line. The Steels fans behind the goal claimed it was in but the referee didn’t agree, so Worksop remained in the lead.
Unfortunately, Worksop were able to close the game out and claim a crucial win in the battle for a play-off spot.
MOTM: Luke Mangham