Kendal Town 0
Stocksbridge Park Steels 5
Evo-Stik Premier Division
LUCK completely deserted Kendal Town as they were given a 5-0 beating at the hands of bottom club Stocksbridge Park Steels.
Kendal’s Paul Alexander and Kevin Leadbetter were both sent off, meaning that the Black and Whites had to play most of the second half with nine men as the result leaves Town just two points off the bottom of the table.
The incident which changed the face of the game took place on 18 minutes. Jordan Thewlis received a cross-field pass for Stocksbridge on the left wing and after cutting inside he unleashed a shot which Josh Welsby, deputising for the injured Craig Dootson, did well to get his hands to. But the save only went as far as Alex Callery, who was sliding and got a shot on target.
Alexander stopped the ball on the line while falling to the ground, and linesman John Mulligan ruled that the centre back handballed despite vociferous claims to the counter from Alexander and a host of Kendal players including Leadbetter, who was booked for dissent.
With Alexander given a straight red card for deliberate handball on the line, Danny South despatched the penalty that gave Stocksbridge the lead.
Three minutes later and Kendal could have had a penalty of their own. Josh Amis played a lovely ball into the danger area and Alex Taylor looked to have been hauled down in the six-yard box when the goal was at his mercy, but referee Kevin Mulraine waved the shouts away.
Before and after the incidents Kendal looked like the better side, Joe Bunney shooting straight at keeper Xavier Parisi in the 12th minute when he was clean through, while full back Naim El-Harrati dragged his shot just wide after he went on a great run midway through the first half.
Kendal’s task was made doubly difficult in the 31st minute when South scored a classy second goal, chipping Welsby from 25 yards out after spotting him off his line.
Welsby came up with a good double save to deny Andy Ring, keeping Kendal within two goals of Stocksbridge going into half time.
But three minutes into the second half Leadbetter was given his marching orders for a second bookable offence after committing a foul close to the halfway line, and the game was all but over as a contest.
With an extra two men on the field, Stocksbridge had plenty of time and space to pass the ball around, and the effort and workrate put in by Kendal’s remaining players was a credit to them and the club.
It was only on 65 minutes that the South Yorkshire side got their third goal, South finding himself onside and setting up an easy tap-in for Thewlis.
Alex Ralph came on for Amis in the 51st minute and he impressed on the left wing, drilling two efforts into the box on 73 and 81 minutes for the unlucky Bunney, who couldn’t quite get to the ball on both occasions.
But the Gods were not on Kendal’s side, and a shot which looked like it was going wide from substitute Hegel Nowbisse took a wicked deflection off the superb Conor Qualter, who was a rock at centre back in the absence of the ill Marc Joseph, and the ball fired into the net, totally wrong-footing Welsby.
With three minutes left, Stocksbridge completed the rout as Chris Bettney’s cross into the six-yard box took another deflection, which diverted the ball straight into the path of Thewlis, who could not miss the open goal from a yard out to cap a torrid day for the Mintcakes.
Josh Welsby, Naim El-Harrati, Ian Kilford, Conor Qualter, Paul Alexander, Adam Birchall, Scott Harries, Alex Taylor (c), Joe Bunney, Josh Amis, Kevin Leadbetter.
Subs: Alex Ralph for Amis (51), Jack Cook for Harries (63)
Subs not used: Ben Ashcroft, Dave Foster, Craig Dootson
Yellow cards: Leadbetter
Red cards: Alexander, Leadbetter
Stocksbridge Park Steels
Parisi, Darker, Turner, Haigh (c), Swirad, Callery, Bettney, Senior (Nowbisse 59), South (Payne 75), Thewlis, Ring (Goff 66).
Subs not used: Bowden-Lovell, Todd.
Yellow cards: Senior, Turner
Key man: Conor Qualter - Desperately unlucky to score the own goal and playing in only his third game for the club, the scoreline could have been much worse had he not made some crucial blocks in a mature performance by the youngster.