Who are FA Cup opponents Stocksbridge Park Steels?
By Luke Duden (Twitter: @LukeDudenUoS)
Ashington face a trip to South Yorkshire for the third qualifying round of the FA Cup, but what do we actually know about Stocksbridge Park Steels?
Our opponents currently compete one step above us, alongside North Shields, in the Northern Premier League East division, after being promoted in 2020/21. They currently find themselves 15th with five points from five games.
A 90th minute winner by Mitchell Langton in the second round saw Steels come out as 2-1 victors against the surprise package of the 2020/21 FA Cup, Marine, who played Spurs in the third round that season.
Stocksbridge will be looking to reach the fourth qualifying round for the second time in their 36-year history, after previously reaching this stage in the 2003/04 campaign – but they were beat 6-0 by Shildon.
Their average home attendance last season was 199, with their biggest crowd being 551 in a local derby against Sheffield. Although their maximum capacity is 3500, in their second qualifying round victory they pulled in an attendance of 254.
The club was founded in 1986 following the merger of Stocksbridge Works FC and Oxley Park Sports FC, and entered at level ten of the football pyramid in the Northern Counties East League Division Two, they were then promoted twice in three seasons to the Northern Premier League Division One.
The Hallamshire based side reached as high as the Northern Premier League Premier Division (level 7) in 2008-09, but is best known in recent years for being the first club of Jamie Vardy.
SKINNER: “THE BACKING FROM OUR FANS DOESN’T SURPRISE ME”
By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner has applauded supporters of the Woodhorn Lane outfit ahead of Saturday’s Emirates FA Cup third qualifying round tie against Stocksbridge Park Steels in Sheffield.
The Wansbeck based club announced details on Tuesday of a third coach for fans to make the trip to Yorkshire with chairman Brian Shotton saying: “I’m absolutely amazed but unsurprised we now need a third coach. The supporters at this club are top class and we need as many of them there on Saturday roaring us on in what is the clubs biggest game in over a decade. We may not fill this one but we want to accommodate everyone who wishes to travel.”
Skinner gave his reaction when he said: “It’ll be fantastic to be back in FA Cup action and it’ll be brilliant to be backed by three coach loads of supporters who are going to make the trip down. It’s phenomenal really – but it doesn’t surprise me because you only need to look over the last couple of seasons in terms of when we (the team) gave them something to shout about, that they came out in their numbers with around 1200 against Newcastle United under 23’s in the Northumberland Senior Cup; 600 when we played Consett in a league game and then this year when we have had crowds of 600’s and 700’s in the FA Cup. To go to Sheffield on a Saturday and be taking three bus loads is credit to the fans and the town and we just hope we can put on a show.”
SKINNER: “ALL I ASK IS TO MAKE SURE WE SEIZE THE MOMENT”
By Brian Bennett
Ashington FC manager Ian Skinner says his outfit will be properly prepared ahead of Saturday’s third qualifying round clash in the Emirates FA Cup against Stocksbridge Park Steels at the Bracken Moor Stadium.
On Tuesday night, both clubs had contrasting fortunes. The Colliers won their Northumberland Senior Cup game against West Allotment Celtic 3-1 whilst at the same time, Stocksbridge were going down to a single goal defeat in their Pitching In Northern Premier East Division tussle at Ossett United.
All eyes now turn to Saturday’s contest and Skinner said: “We are all looking forward to it – but it’s just another game. It’s a one where we are going there with a positive mindset and will be looking to try and win the game. We’ve got a way in which we think we can play which will give us a good chance but will it be easy? No. Will we give it our best shot? Yes. Will it be fantastic to be roared on by 150 plus supporters? Most definitely.”
The boss has once again does his homework: “I’ve spoken to a couple of people who have played Stocksbridge this season and I’ve also managed to get some footage of them,” he said, “We think we have identified some of their strengths and we think we have identified some of our strengths which can maybes cause them one or two problems – but again it’s cup football and about the occasion and it will come down to on the day really.”
On the team news front, Dean Biggs and Robbie Dale are doubtful whilst Skinner rates Dan Maguire and Lee Mason’s chances at 50-50: “All I will be asking of the players is to make sure they seize the moment and make sure they give a good account of ourselves,” he added, “If we play to the levels we are capable of then we’ll see where that takes us.”
If the scores are level after 90 minutes, the replay will take place at Woodhorn Lane on Tuesday (October 4) with a 7.45pm kick-off.