MATCH REPORT: SHEFFIELD FC VS STOCKTON TOWN
Benni Ndlovu shines as Sheffield finish the season on a high with a 2-1 win against Stockton Town at the Tuffnells Home of Football. The victory leaves The World’s First 9th in the Pitching In Northern Premier League – East Division and concludes the 2022/2023 campaign.
Ndlovu was on point to retake the lead after a Nathan Mulligan penalty brought the visitors level. Still, the winger could have had his name on the scoresheet at least twice more, with a header whistling agonisingly over the bar and a chance one-on-one with the goalkeeper that was smothered by Lewis McDonald.
The visitors threatened earliest, as striker Harry Close fired just wide of the far post in the first minute. Club responded in kind in the sixth minute, as Connor Cutts drove the ball low at McDonald in the Stockton goal, who got down fast the stop the strike.
Sheffield took the lead after half an hour, as Cutts’ tidy feet found him space in a crowded penalty area; after he expertly controlled the ball as it dropped to him, the midfielder slotted home to the keeper’s left.
The visitors drew level after the break as Jorge Sikora was deemed to have felled his opposite number in the box after a Stockton corner. Pierrepont was agonisingly close to saving Mulligan’s strike, but the midfielder found the back of the net as he fired the ball straight down the middle.
But the visitors’ hope was short-lived as a ruthless counterattack saw Club back in the lead. As Marc Newsham connected with a Zottos’ cross and forced a parry from keeper McDonald, a lively Ndlovu was on the scene to score from the rebound.
After retaking the lead, Club established themselves in the game. Two quickfire chances for Brogan and Ndlovu went close to solidifying the lead. Brogan managed a curling effort as Club surged forward on the counterattack, but McDonald parried wide for a corner.
Ndlovu then went agonisingly close from the resulting corner as his header fizzed just over the bar. In the 69th minute, Ndlovu was the threat again for Club, as his hard work to intercept the ball paid off just, and saw him clean through on goal, but once there, the winger couldn’t convert, running out of time to choose whether to shoot or pass to the oncoming Newsham, and McDonald smothered the ball.
Substitute Nathaniel Crofts also kept the Stockton goalkeeper busy with an effort just before the final whistle that forced a stretching save. The season’s final game sees the World’s First secure a top-half finish. Manager Ryan Cresswell says this was something he wanted the players to aim for and be proud of achieving coming into this game.
“To finish on a high is important,” he said. “I tasked them with a top-half finish, and they managed to do it, so I’m really pleased with them."
This victory over Stockton added to a run of games which has particularly impressed Cresswell, with his team showing the fight to beat multiple playoff-chasing teams in the last two weeks, with Shildon AFC, Long Eaton United and Hebburn Town leaving empty-handed after facing Club.
“We’ve beaten three of the playoff-contending teams in the last few weeks, and that’s a credit to the lads.
"Because I knew that they could do it, even though we’d been a bit inconsistent since Christmas.
And it was another hard-fought win today. So the lads deserve every credit.”
Despite today's result, Stockton secured a playoff spot and will play Stocksbridge Park Steels.
That concludes the 2022/2023 campaign. Thank you for all of your support this season.
Words: Alfie Dickin