A battle of the top two saw Teesside 1s edge past Sheffield 2s in a tightly contested encounter at Norton.
Sheffield Men’s 2s looked to build on their win against Hallam 2s in their season opener last week, but it was not to be for the boys in black and gold, who suffered a 2-1 loss – their first of the new campaign.
Sheffield looked dominant in the first half as they won the majority of challenges, kept the ball well and penned in the Teeside back-line.
After a few wayward, speculative shots from both sides, the game began to settle down which allowed Sheffield to enjoy a spell of positive possession football. Teesside, however, were uneasy on the ball and failed to handle the pressure coming from Sheffield’s attacking flair.
This in turn resulted in Louis Butler taking advantage of a defensive mishap to give Sheffield a fully deserved 1-0 lead.
Butler’s goal saw Teesside step up their attacking play which sparked a spell of end-to-end excitement mid-way through the first half.
Soon after, Teesside’s progressively offensive football saw them draw level as Junior Masandi snatched a goal against the run of play following some sloppy Sheffield defending.
The sides went in level at half-time, although Sheffield were unlucky not to maintain their lead, as they were the more dominant of the two sides going into the break.
Teesside started the second half as they intended to go on, coming close to scoring almost instantly.
Sheffield appeared rattled, causing them to look clumsy and lose the ball on multiple occasions, much like Teesside in the first half.
Frustration began to kick in for Sheffield as they failed to maintain their first half form. Players that lost the ball appeared to lose their heads with it, as reckless tackles from both sides became more frequent.
Sheffield’s Ben Hackwood was on the receiving end of a two-footed challenge from Teesside captain, Luke Nixon, but the tackle went unpunished by the referee, causing outrage among the Sheffield players.
Their frustration wasn’t helped by a goal from Jake Thompson who exploited Sheffield’s open defensive line to give Teesside the lead and make it 2-1.
Unlike Teesside, going a goal down didn’t fuel a drive to get level; Sheffield continued to look complacent with and without the ball.
Sheffield’s manager had clearly had enough, as he made two changes with half an hour left after angrily booting a ball away in dissatisfaction.
These changes seemed to settle the midfield, allowing Sheffield to find their feet again. Passes became more positive as they looked to get Louis Butler on the ball, who was arguably Sheffield’s best, and most dangerous, player in the game.
Teesside sat back and maintained their lead as Sheffield came closer and closer to goal in the dying stages of a mediocre second half of football.
Despite their last-ditch attempts, Sheffield suffered their first loss of the season which they’ll look to improve on against Chester (Warrington) 1s in next week’s cup clash.