A GOAL early in each half set up Stocksbridge Park Steels for a comfortable victory in the Sheffield Senior Cup Final at Hillsborough last night with Wednesday owner Milan Mandaric presenting the coveted trophy and the medals.
Mark Ward netted them both, on five and 51 minutes, and there proved to be no way back for Parkgate despite a big push after Stocksbridge were reduced to 10 men when midfielder Colin Marrison was sent off for a second booking just past the hour mark.
Parkgate, enjoying their best-ever season after finishing second in the N.Counties East League’s Premier Division, certainly had plenty of possession - indeed, more of it - but found the men from two divisions above them in the top flight of the Evo-Stik League, having the know-how and higher level experience to cope with them.
The early goal was a damaging blow for the underdogs. The lively Jack Muldoon broke away up the right and his low centre was steered home by Ward. Only a fine fingertip save by James Jenkinson prevented Richard Stirrup adding to it soon afterwards.
Parkgate worked their way into the game but neither Will Senior nor Ashley Worsfold were able to make something from decent opportunities.
Just after Senior saw a header saved from a corner, Stocksbridge went two up on 51 minutes when Ward ran onto Stuart Ludlam’s lofted pass and calmly finished.
Nathan Swindells wasn’t far wide for Parkgate before Marrison was dismissed after a second booking and Parkgate, with an extra striker on, threatened more and Worsfold was narrowly wide from Danny Cardwell’s cross.
But Stocksbridge coped solidly and Muldoon, timing his run perfectly onto Stirrup’s pass, finished smartly with 11 minutes left for the third.
Stocksbridge: Scott; Lloyd, Davies, Ludlam, Lovell, Stirrup, Callery, Marrison, Muldoon, Ward (Haigh 80), Ring (Leonard 65). Unused: Ratcliffe, Hall, Dawson.
PARKGATE: Jenkinson, Cardwell, Clayton, Drennan, Griffin, Senior, Hannity, Fletcher (Wood 62), Worsfold, Lipka, Swindells. Subs: Bacon, Jerrison, Major, Gurnhill.
Referee: Scott Ledger (Barnsley)