Stockton Town produced a dominant victory over Sheffield in blustery winds in Teesside.

After four Anchors goals in the first half, Stephen Thompson stopped any late Sheffield hope after they pulled a goal back from the penalty spot. 

Michael Dunwell named three changes in the starting lineup, with Mikey Roberts, Dan McWilliams and Glen Butterworth all returning.

It took less than 60 seconds for the Anchors to strike first, a scuffed clearance by Harry Mitchell was collected by Tom Portas and he rifled an unstoppable strike past Edd Hall.

The Sheffield goalkeeper very nearly had a moment to forget minutes later, when he spilled a Dan McWilliams cross which bounced off the post and away from danger.

But the Anchors continued to push after their opener, and were rewarded in the 11th minute when Kevin Hayes ended his slight goal drought in Kevin Hayes fashion, by cutting in from the right hand side and drilling a low strike into the bottom corner. 

Stockton were firing shots from everywhere to test the goalkeeper in the uncertainty of the winds and Stephen Thompson nearly scored a goal of the season contender when he fired an outside-of-the-boot strike narrowly wide from near the halfway line.

Glen Butterworth added a third goal for Stockton in the 30th minute when his long shot was deflected past Ed Hall, further solidifying the Anchors advantage. 

Sheffield struggled to cause any trouble for the Stockton backline for a majority of the first half, but they did call Nathan Harker into action for the first time in the 39th minute with a close shot which was well held by the Stockton number one.

Stockton added a fourth two minutes before the break when captain Adam Nicholson bagged his second goal in as many games when he nodded in a perfect Kevin Hayes free-kick to give Michael Dunwell’s side a four goal cushion at the break. 

Half-time: Stockton Town 4-0 Sheffield

15 minutes after the restart, Sheffield were awarded a slight lifeline when a soft foul inside the area was enough for the referee to blow for a penalty which substitute Cameron Johnson comfortably placed past Nathan Harker.

But as Sheffield started to gain a little bit of momentum, it was crushed 11 minutes later when Stephen Thompson near replicated Tom Portas’ opener when a failed clearance fell to his feet which he thundered low past Edd Hall.

Mere moments later, an mis-hit shot by Stephen Thompson fell to the feet of Michael Sweet who couldn’t find the finishing touch to place the ball into the net.

Stockton managed to deal with the change in advantage from the wind which led to a much quieter second half in comparison to the first, and a massive three points were secured.

Full-time: Stockton Town 5-1 Sheffield

The Anchors now sit 10 points ahead of Dunston in second with three games remaining, although the trailing teams have more games still to play. Stockton make the debut trip to Winterton Rangers next week in their penultimate away fixture of the season.

Stockton Town: Harker, King, Coulthard, Nicholson (Baggs 72’), McWilliams, Portas (Henry 66’), Butterworth, Hayes, Thompson, Roberts (Beddow 60’), Sweet

Unused subs: Fowler, Painter

Sheffield: Hall, Yates, Coleman, Mitchell, Whelan, Cutts, Greaves, O’Boyle, Newsham (Johnson 54’), Modest (Noble 70’), Slew (Ndlovu 55’)

Goals: 1-0, 1 min, Portas; 2-0, 11 min, Hayes; 3-0, 30 min, Butterworth; 4-0, 43 min, Nicholson; 4-1, 60 min, Johnson (pen); 5-1, 71 min, Thompson.

Attendance: 637

Photo: Harry Cook

Words: Jordan Clarke

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