STOCKTON TOWN VS STOCKSBRIDGE PARK STEELS
COMPETITION: Northern Premier League East Division – Play-Off Semi-Final
DATE: Tuesday 25th April 2023
ENTRY: £9 Adult, £7 Concession, £3 Child (tickets available online or at the gate)
GROUND: MAP Group UK Stadium, Bishopton Road West, Stockton-On-Tees, TS19 0QD
LIVE UPDATES: @stockton_townfc – Twitter
After a very hard-fought season, Stockton Town take on Stocksbridge Park Steels, who placed 5th in the league table, in the Northern Premier League East Division Play-Off Semi-Final.
For those unfamiliar with how the playoff system works at this level, the Anchors play a one-legged semi-final, with the final on Saturday being played at the ground of the highest finishing team. So should Stockton emerge victorious tonight, they will host the Play-Off final against either Hebburn Town or Long Eaton United on Saturday afternoon.
The two sides only met in the league three weeks ago, with the Anchors managing to edge out a 1-0 win thanks to a second half goal from Kevin Hayes.
Stockton and Stocksbridge Park Steels have met four times in all competitions, with the first of those being a goalless draw in Stockton’s first ever game in the Northern Premier League East.
Here are the results from the previous matchups:
8 Apr 2023: Stockton Town 1-0 Stocksbridge Park Steels – Northern Premier League East Division
27 Aug 2022: Stocksbridge Park Steels 1-2 Stockton Town – Northern Premier League East Division
18 Dec 2021: Stockton Town 3-2 Stocksbridge Park Steels – Northern Premier League East Division
14 Aug 2021: Stocksbridge Park Steels 0-0 Stockton Town – Northern Premier League East Division
Stockton Town: W W W D L
Last Game: Sheffield 2-1 Stockton Town
Stocksbridge Park Steels: W L W W L
Last Game: Bridlington Town 1-0 Stocksbridge Park Steels
After managing to secure 5th place on the last day of the season, despite losing 1-0 to Bridlington on the day, Steels will make their first playoff appearance since 2018.
Stocksbridge have a very well rounded squad, led by the dangerous attack of Ify Ofoegbu and Luke Rawson, who have a combined 21 goals between them this season, with a majority coming in the second half of the season.
Despite losing both times to Stockton this season, they gave the Anchors very challenging tests and tonight will be no different. Manager Ian Richards has them playing physical but quick paced football which can be tough for defences to stop. Only two weeks they beat fellow playoff challengers Hebburn Town 4-1 at home, in a game which ended up proving crucial in the Steels’ playoff push.
VIEW FROM THE OPPOSITION
Stocksbridge Park Steels Manager Ian Richards spoke after Saturday’s defeat at Bridlington ahead of tonight’s game and said:
“We’ve got a clear identity, a clear way of playing, a group of players here that are hungry for success and we’re going to play to our positives and strengths and hopefully that’s enough to win.”
Anchors manager Michael Dunwell spoke after the Sheffield game and said:
“It will be a tough game, Stocksbridge are a good team and they have done well to get where they are and they have been consistent in the second half of the season.
“They were good at our place and it was a tough game. They created a lot chances that they did not convert. We know that we have to be at our best to beat them tonight.”
Words by Jordan Clarke