Friday, 17 August 2012

Stocksbridge Park Steels 4 v Chorley 5 - EvoStik NPL Premier Division

Friday 17th August 2012,
at Bracken Moor (AKA The Look Local Stadium)
Evo-Stik Northern Premier League, Premier Division
Stocksbridge Park Steels (2) 4
Grant Darley 14, 48, Gavin Ellison 24,
Michael Fish 69
Chorley (2) 5
Ciaran Kilheeney 19, Adam Roscoe 33,
Tom Ince 71, 74, Andrew Russell 77
Admission £8, Programme £1.50, Attendance 322

Stocksbridge Park Steels:
Pete Collinge, Daryl Weston, Ben Turner, Matty Carr, Lincoln Adams, Alex Callery, James Booker, Gavin Ellison, Michael Fish, Grant Darley, Mark Whitehouse
Subs - Harry Bockarie, Laurance Hunter, Nicky Darker, Darren Schofield, Adam Billard
Andy Robertson, Keiran WAlmsley, Simon Garner, Andy Teague, Andy Russell, Adam Roscoe, Chris DEnham, Jamie Vermiglio, Ciaran Kilheeney, Steve Foster, Tom Ince
Subs - Mark Ross, Matt Jansen, Tom Williams, Steve Flitcroft, Proya Ahmadi
Note* James Booker has been credited with the opening goal for Stocksbridge PS on some websites, but he didn't score tonight.
Booker contested a 50/50 ball with the Chorley keeper Andy Robertson, on the edge of the box, the impact of both players arriving at the same time caused the ball to spin away into the path of Grant Darley, who clearly opened the scoring, when he shot into the now unguarded visitors net.
I'm sure this version of events will be clarified once the video footage of the game is made available.
Four minutes after going behind, Chorley had the ball in the net, when Tom Ince's free kick from 30 yards out, floated over everybody in the box and into the net, fortunately for Steels though, a Chorley player, interfering with play in the six yard box, was flagged for offside and the goal was disallowed.
Chorley had to wait another 30 seconds before they pulled level, when Ciaran Kilheeney headed home, completely unmarked and unchallenged, from a few yards out.
Chorley are amongst the favourites to go for promotion from the NPL, whilst Stocksbride are ... err, amongst the less fancied sides in the division.
But Gavin Ellison put the home side back in front on 24 minutes, latching onto a rebound from the crossbar to score from close range. Curiously it was a Chorley defender who had headed the ball against his own bar.
It would be fair to say that both defences contributed equally as much to this 'nine goal thriller' as any of their forwards.
A case in point being when Adam Roscoe headed home Chorley's second from a Simon Garner right wing cross, while occupying a space in the Steels penalty area, big enough to make a three point turn in ... in a barge.
Roscoe, no doubt, learned to score goals like that when he was at Mansfield Town.
Just before half time, SPS could've taken the lead again, but Grant Darley fired narrowly wide when he was clean through on goal.
However, three minutes into the second half, Darley made amends, when he nodded home a right wing cross from Michael Fish (not that one) to give the home side the lead, yet again.
Andy Roscoe clattered Michael Fish and the referee had no option but to penalise him.
Roscoe, no doubt, learned to 'tackle' like that when he was at Lincoln City.
Grant Darley tried his luck from the free kick, Andy Robertson couldn't hold onto the ball, but parried it instead ... and the Chorley defence, for once, scrambled it away to safety.
But the visitors back four was missing in action again on 69 minutes, when another long free kick from out on the right, found Michael Fish, who gratefully made good use of the half an acre of space he was stood in, to plant an header past Andy Robertson.
4-2 up, 20 minutes to go, what could possibly go wrong for 'Steels' now?
Stocksbridge then adopted a bit of reverse psychology, by switching to Chorley's style of defending. After all, if 'the Magpies', one of the teams most fancied to do well in the NPL this season, play like that, then it must be way to do things ... right?
Stocksbridge craftily hoodwinked Chorley into a false sense of security, by standing off and allowing Tom Ince to score twice in the space of three minutes ... and showed their illustrious Lancastrian visitors that they could match them every inch of the way and use exactly the same system Flicroft's side had been playing tonight.
The maverick James Booker, went against the goal guaranteeing tactical blueprint and headed the ball clear from underneath the crossbar on 75 minutes.
There's always one, eh!?
On 77 minutes, Steve Flitcroft muscled his way into the box from the right wing and knocked a square pass across the six yard box that Andy Russell scored from with ease ... Chorley were ahead for the first (and only) time in the game.
Remarkably, there were no further goals scored in the last 13 minutes, as both defences abandoned their 'total football' principles and started resorting to clearing their lines and marking opposition players instead. Boo! Boring!
In the final minute, Stocksbridge's Laurance Hunter tried to catch Andy Robertson off guard with a long shot, but it didn't have the required power to beat the visitors keeper.
Full time 4-5 ... blimey!
Who would expected that, eh!?
Chorley manager Gary Flitcroft has confidently predicted that Chorley will win the NPL this season.
No doubt they're geared up for it, but although scoring five goals away from home is the way to go about it, leaving such alarming gaps at the other end of the pitch won't help him to fulfil his prophecy.
An entertaining game, obviously, but if I wasn't a neutral, I'd be having a few reservations about my team's defensive vulnerabilities ... and that goes for both Stocksbridge Park Steels and Chorley.