For the third Northern Premier League outing in a row, it finished 3-1 to the Owls. This time though, it was a comeback win after trailing at the interval. Second-half goals from Jack McMenemy, Oli Donald and Josh Batty saw the side climb into the play-off places.
There were two changes to the team that beat Sheffield on Saturday. With Scott Vernon unavailable, in came Jack McMenemy. Harry Middleton also got the nod ahead of Luke Lofts, who was on the bench.
The side lined-up as follows in a 3-5-2 formation:
Goal: Tom Jackson
Defence: Jordon Cooke, Paul Walker, Oli Donald
Midfield: Tim Lowe, Harry Middleton, Alex Flett (c), Josh Venney, Sam Topliss
Attack: Jack McMenemy, Brody Robertson
Subs: Luke Lofts, Loz McKay, Josh Batty, Josh Smaller, Liam Dickens
A mild evening at the Myenergi Stadium, but it was deceptively windy. This proved to have a definite effect on the contest.
Stocksbridge, who lay just a place below Clee in the table at kick-off, started the brightest.
Apart from McMenemy heading over from a corner, the other largely half-chances fell the way of the Steels. Ruthven and Nodder both had sighters, before the visitors broke the deadlock in the 21st minute.
The strong wind appeared to be a factor in some sort of defensive mix-up, which allowed Lewis Whitham to nip in and stroke the ball into the net.
Not the opening that the home faithful were expecting but credit goes to the South Yorkshire outfit for knocking Clee out of their stride. Plenty of commitment from the Owls though, with captain Flett nodding too high after engineering some space in the box.
Keeper Jackson needed to be alert to save from Whitham and Nodder. At the other end of the park, Middleton fired a free-kick around a yard the wrong side of the upright.
HT Cleethorpes Town 0 Stocksbridge Park Steels 1 (Whitham 21)
In an action replay of the weekend’s encounter, Clee levelled within a minute of the resumption. An unselfish lay-off by Robertson found his strike partner Jack McMenemy, who calmly claimed his 5th goal for the Owls in 7 outings.
Better was to follow, as Clee powered to the front soon afterwards. A corner from Flett was met by Oli Donald, and the defender’s header hit the target via a couple of deflections.
One-way traffic now – the team cleverly using the wind to their advantage to fashion some excellent attacking play.
The dangerous McMenemy sent a rasping drive inches wide, and then Topliss was left cursing his luck, the wing-back’s pile-driver smashing away to safety off the meat of the crossbar.
It took until deep into injury time to fully secure the spoils. Robertson showed an electric turn of foot down the right flank to burn-off his marker. The low delivery was perfect for Josh Batty, the substitute gleefully slotting home.
FT Cleethorpes Town 3 (McMenemy 46, Donald 51, Batty 90+3) Stocksbridge Park Steels 1 (Whitham 21) Attendance: 263
Time to wheel out a well-worn phrase – a game of two halves!!
A disappointing first period was a distant memory by the final whistle. A quarter of the way through our 36-match campaign and into the play-off zone. Averaging a shade over 2 points-per-game is a great return – well done to the players & management.
If we can keep it going, we would total 76 points. I predict that would see us finish in the top 3! Long way to go, of course.
The Docks Beers’ man-of-the-match award went to Brody Robertson (see picture with Chair Jason Ledden). Thank you for the continued generous sponsorship.
An away game on Saturday (23rd – 3pm) at Pickering Town. With them at the bottom-of-the-table, the Pikes are certain to be scrapping for everything. All support very welcome in North Yorkshire, as we go for 6 league wins on the trot. The club record (in the NPL) is 7.
A little way to go to break our NCEL/NPL combined mark though – it stands at a whopping 16!
UP THE OWLS!