A poor first-half performance cost the Owls on Tuesday evening, as Sheffield FC eased to a 3-1 victory. After trailing by three at one stage, Clee rallied strongly in the final phase, but only had an own goal to show for their night’s endeavours.
Manager Dave Smith made just the one change from the thrilling 5-4 weekend triumph against Loughborough Dynamo. Adam Millson came in for Brandon Buckley and the side lined up as follows:
Goal: Theo Richardson
Defence: Tim Lowe, Ben Clappison, Oli Donald, Jon Oglesby
Midfield: Jack Richardson, Alex Flett (c), Adam Millson
Attack: Brody Robertson, Scott Vernon, Lewis Collins
Subs: Brandon Buckley, Conor Marshall, Andy Taylor, Matt Bloomer
Knowing that a win would take them into the top 2, the Owls had plenty of incentive but got off to the worst possible start. In the 3rd minute, a free-kick was not properly dealt with and the prolific Marc Newsham hooked home from around 12-yards out.
It was a generally niggly start, with the referee dishing out a yellow card to Tim Lowe. The stop-start nature was not helping the visitors find their stride and they fell further behind just before the quarter-hour. A lobbed ball down our left-flank sailed over the covering defender and a firm cross was converted at the far-post by Mitchell Dunne.
A jolt to the system after Clee’s excellent opening to the campaign and Vernon almost produced an instant response, but the striker’s snapshot flew a yard too high.
Captain Flett was doing his best to spark his troops into life and shot wide himself in the 34th minute. However, Sheffield remained on top and Newsham should have done better shortly before the break. The earlier scorer was again afforded too much space but was off-target with the volley.
HT Sheffield FC 2 (Newsham 3, Dunne 14) Cleethorpes Town 0
The management team had seen enough and made a double substitution during half-time. Conor Marshall and Andy Taylor came on for Adam Millson and Ben Clappison respectively.
Clee began their uphill task with vigour. Nevertheless, the home side weathered the storm and gathered their third on the hour. A corner was floated over and Marc Newsham was well placed to grab his brace. There was some controversy as well, with a strong case for handball, but the referee awarded the goal despite protests.
To their credit, rather than give up the ghost, the Owls belatedly came to life and dominated most of the remainder of the evening’s entertainment. On his competitive debut, Marshall was showing promise on the right and Flett was all over the place, going close again by forcing keeper Hedge into action after 69 minutes.
Shortly afterwards, Clee did gain some reward, when a cross was turned into his own net by Rory Coleman. Then, with pressure mounting, Donald blasted a goalbound effort from 9-yards and was left holding his head when the rocket was bravely blocked.
The visitors were straining every sinew to set-up a grandstand finale and Oglesby was unlucky in the closing stages, when his curler was cleared off the line. This was as near as the Owls came though, as they fell to a 4th loss in five outings against Sheffield.
FT Sheffield FC 3 (Newsham 3, 60, Dunne 14) Cleethorpes Town 1 (Coleman og 74) Attendance: 272
Not the greatest of nights by any stretch of the imagination!
Despite the win on Saturday, shipping 4 was worrying and, after watching us concede another 3, I am more concerned now. I have my own ideas as to what the problem is but, of course, it is up to the management to determine if any remedial action is required.
Fans can be sure that everyone will be working hard to bounce back from this setback in the FA Cup on Saturday. On that note, many thanks to everyone who travelled – I applaud you all. Don’t forget to book your place on the executive coach for Kidsgrove, leaving Linden at half ten and only £10 per person.
On to man-of-the-match, I am tempted to award it to Martin, our bus driver, for getting us out of there!! Sheffield really are a bogey side for us. However, it’s going to be Alex Flett again – as usual, he was a credit to the Club in trying circumstances and gave everything for the cause.
So, with a hectic September ahead, let’s hope this is only a blip and the mighty Owls can show their true colours – see you on Saturday!
Saturday 7th September – 3pm
Kidsgrove Athletic – FA Cup First Qualifying Round
The Autonet Insurance Stadium, Hollinwood Road, Kidsgrove, ST7 1DQ
Adults £8, Concessions £5, 12-16 years £1, Under 12s free
UP THE OWLS!