A spirited second-half performance by Hebburn Town couldn’t prevent Stocksbridge Park Steels taking a 3-1 win on Saturday, who leapt above the Hornets in the league.
Ify Ofoegbu opened the scoring for the visitors in the 9th minute when Tomas Poole lobbed the ball past Hebburn’s defence, making no mistake rolling the ball over Shaun Newbrook.
Stocksbridge followed up in the 52nd minute, as Newbrook parried a shot from just outside the box by Lewis Mackaskill, and Charlie Oglesby was there at short distance to poke the ball beyond reach.
Hopes were raised only minutes later for a potential Hebburn comeback, as Sean Reid headed in Joe Walton’s cross in the 57th minute.
But Hebburn’s resilient second-half antics were for nothing as Tom Devitt slid the ball past Newbrook, capping off an unfortunate afternoon for Daniel Moore’s team.
Heading into the match Hebburn were one point greater than the Steels, who sat just outside of the play-off positions before kick-off.
In the five games preceding Saturday’s fixture, Stocksbridge gained 4 wins, losing only to Worksop who have since won 11 in a row.
Hebburn rank among the worst in the division over the last five games, with their only win being a 2-0 win against Consett AFC – a 4-1 defeat against Long Eaton United and last fortnight’s 6-1 humiliation versus Worksop do the Hornets no favours.
Although Stocksbridge took the lead early on, it was Hebburn who started off brightly – in the fifth minute a succession of shots by talisman Olly Martin and Reid were blocked.
The opener didn’t seem to change the landscape of the match, as Hebburn continued to knock on Stocksbridge’s door, but Henry Hampshaw was always on guard to stop it.
Martin tried an audacious strike from around 30-yards-out in the 25th minute but as with before, Hampshaw held with relative ease.
The pressure continued thereafter, with the greatest shouts coming closer to half-time. Penalty protests were waved away after Henderson went down in the box and Martin tried his luck again from a free kick which breezed along the post, going wide.
Stocksbridge almost capitalised on a disorientating moment for keeper Newbrook, as he lost the ball dangerously outside the box, which invited Poole to brush the post from range – the Steels were unlucky not to have doubled their lead before half-time.
Hebburn were unlucky too, and the tempo only increased heading into the colder second half.
Stocksbridge doubled their lead though it didn’t seem to prevent Hebburn from giving it their all.
The Hornets were rewarded when Reid nodded Walton’s cross past Hampshaw just minutes after.
It offered a glimmer of hope that Hebburn could launch a comeback and provide the 207 watching their first home victory in the league since a 1-0 win at Shildon in September.
Amar Purewal came on in place of Liam Henderson not too long later, and he firmly got himself into the game.
In the 66th minute he was through on goal, but Hampshaw got a hand to it, outside the box, and was penalised by virtue of a yellow card.
He combined with Martin in the 75th minute who delivered the ball from the by-line but it was not well-received.
The game was put beyond any doubt in the 82nd minute, when Ofoegbu skilfully played past Donaghy and struck the ball into the box, but Devitt mistakenly slid the ball into Hebburn’s net.
There was late drama, however, as Stocksbridge cleared Donaghy’s header which appeared to reach the net – but it wasn’t given, and the game saw itself out thereafter.
Hebburn Town: Newbrook, Devitt (Harrison), Phillips, Moore, Donaghy, Thompson, Reid (Murray), Spence, Henderson (Purewal), Martin, Walton Subs: Field, Coulson.
Stocksbridge Park Steels: Hampshaw, Baker, Tinker, Langton, Murray, Oglesby, Turner, Whelan, Poole, Mackaskill (Youmbi), Ofoegbu Subs: Townrow, O’Connor, Ring, Lemon