The reserves went down by the odd goal in five in a very entertaining game against a Ventus Yeadon side who missed out on promotion last season due to a technicality. The game was played at a lively pace and the hosts had to be thankful to some sterling defensive headers (two of them diving!) by both Kyle Fox and Alistair Morgan and two very good saves by keeper Harry Jarman to keep the visitors at bay in the early stages. Both sides worked hard but without success with Steeton’s debutant striker Andy Howland going closest after good work by Jamie Longley but his curling shot went narrowly wide of the mark. The deadlock was finally broken after 23 minutes with a very good goal. When a slide-rule pass along the eighteen yard line found visiting winger Danny Backhouse at the corner of the box he hit a first-time shot which found the net giving Jarman no chance. The lead lasted barely two minutes, however, as the hosts were awarded a corner and after a great deal of confusion in the penalty area the ball fell to Longley who curled a neat shot into the corner of the net. Thanks to good defending by both sides no further action of any significance took place in the first half until the last minute when a mix up in the Steeton defence led to a corner kick which almost crept in at the near post but was somehow kept out before being hacked away by Chris Mawson.
The second half started brightly and an early cross from Ben Sutcliffe, who made many a penetrating run down the left wing, almost brought success, but Howland was just unable to reach the ball. Howland was again unlucky in the 53rd minute when an acrobatic bicycle kick saw the goalkeeper grab the ball at the second attempt after it hit him in the face. On the hour mark and the visitors took the lead when a corner kick was directed home by a thumping header from their number 12 who rose unchallenged in the middle of the penalty area. Shortly after this Sutcliffe was forced to leave the field after suffering a leg injury and was replaced by Sam Fox. Within a minute of Fox’s appearance an equaliser was scored when the substitute put a defender under pressure and his loose clearance was snapped upon by Longley whose rasping shot from the edge of the box was deflected at the last second by Howland. The deflection was enough to deceive the goalkeeper and the ball squirmed into the net. Unfortunately, from the Steeton point of view, the level score lasted only a few minutes as after a long punt downfield the ball was hoisted extremely high into the Steeton penalty area and Jarman was unable to deal with it comfortably as it fell rapidly. After a short scramble the ball fell at the feet of the visiting centre forward who slotted the ball into the empty net to make the score 2-3. The hosts went all out for an equaliser and Howland was extremely unlucky to see his blasted left foot shot from inside the six yard area superbly blocked by a goalkeeper who was injured in the process. With time running out Andy Foster replaced Ross Chapman, who had had a very good game. Within two minutes of coming onto the field Foster found himself yellow carded after tangling with the visitors number 6. Just before the referee blew the final whistle Harry McGowan and Joe Mason combined well down the right and the latter put over a cross which ran parallel to the goal line and only inches in front of it: defenders and goalkeeper managed to avoid touching the ball and none of Mason’s teammates could apply the necessary deflection which would have brought about a last ditch equaliser.
Again, as last week, the reserves put up a robust performance against first team opposition. Despite this defeat two particular positives – both partnerships – arose: Andy Howland and Jamie Longley worked well together up front and there is a growing understanding between defenders Alistair Morgan and Kyle Fox.
Team: Jarman, Mason, Morgan, Mawson, Fox, Whiteoak, McGowan, Chapman (Foster), Howland, Longley, Sutcliffe (Fox).
Report by Roy Mason