Tulips Sign Off Home Campaign with A Damp Squib
An unadventurous Stocksbridge Park Steels side stifled their hosts & could have gone home with all three points but for Matty Nolan!...
The Tulips’ hopes of strengthening their bid for an Evo-Stik NPL First Division South Play-Off spot suffered slightly with a disappointing display against lowly Stocksbridge Park Steels at the Sir Halley Stewart Field on Saturday.
The one point gained thanks to a late, late equalising goal by Matt Nolan, keeps the team in the play-off hunt but piles more pressure on the two remaining games at Tividale and Romulus this Tuesday evening and Saturday afternoon respectively. Maximum points are a real must, but the team must turn in an improved display and put away some of the scoring opportunities they spurned on Saturday.
The strong wind combined with a hard and bumpy pitch were not conducive to attractive flowing football, particularly against a Stocksbridge side intent on booting the ball, often aimlessly, at any given opportunity, a ploy which the Tulips were unable to overcome.
Nevertheless scoring opportunities were created but not taken with strikers lacking the much needed aggression in the area and skill to turn them into goals.
Leading scorer Tom Waumsley ended one such chance in the early stages but headed limply into goalkeeper Sam Andrew’s welcoming hands. Shortly afterwards some excellent play down the right side by Dan Bannister was unrewarded with his defence-splitting cross into the area going begging with no one able to push themselves to the limit to make contact.
Lewis Webb (pictured, in first-half action) did manage to head past the flat-footed Andrews, but his effort missed the target.
Home ‘keeper Michael Duggan was fully tested, for the first time, on the half hour when diving bravely to smother the ball at the feet of Brad Grayson. However, he had no chance three minutes later when Ryan Laight lashed in a Kler Heh corner from close range to give the visitors the lead against the run of play.
Chris Hall, who had a solid game in the midfield, was near to levelling the scores before the break with a well struck shot from 20 yards which caught the wind and drifted just wide. Within a minute another ball was pinged into the Stocksbridge area but again the boys in blue failed to take advantage.
Early in the second half Matt Nolan hoisted a Mitch Griffiths cross high over the bar when having the goal at his mercy and Lee Beeson, a 65th minute replacement for Lewis Webb, was denied by an outstretched leg of ‘keeper Andrew, and another Beeson instigated move and cross was cleared from the line by an increasingly desperate away defence.
Parity was finally restored three minutes from time with Nolan getting the all-important touch on a firm, far-post Avi Vieira header following a Jamie Thurlbourne cross to rescue what could yet prove to be one very invaluable point.
Team: Michael Duggan, Dan Banister, Adam Jackson (Avelino Vieira, 70 mins), Jamie Stevens, Michael Leary, Lewis Webb (Lee Beeson, 65 mins), Mitch Griffiths, Chris Hall, Tom Waumsley, Matt Nolan, Jack McGovern (Jamie Thurlbourne, 68 mins). Subs (not used): George Stainfield, Alex Pycock
Tulips' Man-of-the-Match, awarded by Match Sponsor, Mr Vic Couzens: Adam Jackson