Longridge Town 5 Steeton AFC 2
By Chris Jones
Steeton Make Five Star Longridge Work for Victory.
Match report by Phil Briggs
Steeton came away from league leaders Longridge without the points but with plenty of positives after an entertaining game, going down 5-2.
Against the free-scoring hosts, Steeton manager Roy Mason lined up with a 4-1-4-1 formation and the Chevrons started brightly on a bright but chilly afternoon in the Ribble Valley. Captain Steve Pearson introduced himself to the locals with a strong challenge in the 9th minute, earning an early yellow card, his co-defenders working hard to keep Longridge to long-range efforts.
Steeton lost James Grogan to a hamstring injury on 15 minutes, sub Jack Richmond earning his North West Counties debut, but started to mount counter-attacks with Ben Clarkson unlucky when his shot on the turn hit the crossbar on 23 minutes. Longridge quickly turned defence into attack and Richie Allen found space in the penalty box to open the scoring. Things went from bad to worse three minutes later when poor marking from a corner allowed Adam Lawrence to shoot home without a challenge.
Faced with these setbacks Steeton had to dig in and see out the half, surviving a further let-off when Allen hit the post after a smart turn. The second half saw a remarkable turn-around with Mason’s men fast off the blocks and onto the attack with Callum Meade pushed up front with Clarkson. It was Clarkson who made space for himself before shooting home to surprise the hosts and a further shock was in store when Toby Jeffrey went down the right wing and set up Richmond for a fine finish – 2-2!
That plot-twist sparked a fine last half-hour with both sides going for the win. Longridge right-back Joe Melling became an attacking threat and the excellent Thomas Ince ran the show in midfield.
The game swung decisively back to the home side with two great strikes from Allen in 5 minutes, one a solo goal featuring a sublime turn and strong shot, the other a header after skilful wing play from substitute Rio Wilson-Heys.
The winger capped off an excellent personal performance with a quality fifth goal, curled into the top corner. An almost certain sixth goal was prevented when Sam Rooke launched into a flying tackle to rob the striker in front of an open net. This commitment to the cause in the final minute was a testament to the hard work put in by Steeton, who emerged with credit after an entertaining 90 minutes which saw both sides applauded off the field.