First Team vs. Stocksbridge Park Steels (2 : 1)
Evo-Stik League First Division South
Sheffield FC overcome Stocksbridge Park Steels 2-1 in a fiercely contested Sheffield derby, writes Luke Phelps, making it four games unbeaten on the road for Club.
Joe Lumsden came off the bench to give Stocksbridge an unexpected lead late in the game, only for Luke Francis to do the same for Sheffield moments after. In a chaotic five minutes of football Adam Chapman scored a contender for goal of the season from distance, giving Sheffield the lead.
Manager Mark Shaw made just one change to the side that fell short to Belper Town on Boxing Day, new signing Leon Osbourne got his first start for Club replacing Andrew Gascoigne.
It was the hosts who kicked off on this wintery start to the new year, and Stocksbridge had the better of the possession in the opening exchanges. Sheffield keeper and player of the month Louis Jones was called into action early on when Stocksbridge forward Brodie Litchfield rifled a volley towards goal from the edge of the box, but Jones was equal to it.
As the game progressed Sheffield began to have more possession but play was scrappy from both sides. Rob Worrall and Cecil Nyoni were looking to pull the strings in the middle of the park for Club but couldn’t get a sight of goal until the 19th minute. The ever-present Tyler Williams used his pace to set up Leon Osbourne who turned inside the box and smashed the up-right of David Reay's goal.
Minutes later Rob Worrall had another good chance for Sheffield, when his mazy run ended him up in the Stocksbridge box. He drilled low towards the far corner of the goal bringing a strong save from Reay. Mark Shaw was animated on the side lines, but his team were now in the driving seat, chances for Sam Finlaw and Ben Turner followed but neither could trouble the keeper.
There was a feeling of tension coming off the pitch, both teams were desperate to start the new year off with a win but neither could break the deadlock before half-time. The restart brought the rain and conditions turned nasty on the pitch.
Sheffield began the second half brightly winning two early corners after a breakdown in communication between the Stocksbridge defence. Club’s best chance of the game came on 54 minutes when Reay's misplaced goal kick fell to Osbourne who had the goal to run at. As he bared down on the goal, Osbourne attempted to push the ball around Reay who managed to stop the ball, but illegally outside the box. The referee blew his whistle, and after some confusion on and off the pitch, showed Reay a straight red card.
The resulting free kick was taken by Worrall, and deflected narrowly wide off the wall for another corner. Sheffield took the game to 10-man Stocksbridge but were almost caught on the counter. Litchfield threading through to forward Scott Ruthven on the six-yard box who brought a top save from Jones, only to be pulled back for offside.
With the clock ticking Mark Shaw introduced Francis to the game, as the search for the opening goal continued. It seemed that a goal for either team would see them take the points, and Francis almost did that with his second touch of the game. The striker found himself in a one-on-one position with Stocksbridge's substitute keeper but could only force the save.
After an hour of Sheffield pressure, the game got its opening goal, but it came for the home side. After some tidy build up play in the middle the pitch, Litchfield managed to play in substitute Lumsden (75) who slotted neatly past Jones.
The goal dealt a heavy blow to Sheffield fans and players alike, but all was not lost as Club found the equalizing goal only a minute later. A long-range effort from substitute Reon Potts bought the save from the Stocksbridge keeper and the rebound fell kindly to Francis (76), who tucked away his first senior goal for Sheffield.
The game had suddenly sprung into life and minutes later we had our third goal. Skipper Adam Chapman (81) picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and unleashed an absolute rocket of a strike, which flew into the top corner of the goal. The keeper could only watch as Sheffield took the lead for the first time in the game.
As the fourth official signalled three minutes of added time, supporters of Sheffield waited anxiously for the final whistle which eventually came and gave Sheffield the deserved win.
Stocksbridge Park Steels: D.Raey, Charlesworth, Grayson, Jordan, McFadyen, M.Raey, Litchfield, Stirrup, Ruthven, Rhodes, Coleman. Subs: Osgathorpe, Lumsden, Thompson,Warren, Salmons.
Sheffield FC: Jones, Turner, Brown, Nyoni, Lawrence, Chapman, Worrall, Finlaw, Osborne, Yates, Williams. Subs: Wigley, Harrison, Potts, Francis, Tijani.
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