Stocksbridge Park Steels returned to action for the first time in just over six weeks - but it wasn’t the outcome the Bracken Moor club had hoped for.
They went down to a narrow 3-2 defeat against Romulus on the 3G surface.
Steels made a bright start and were mighty close to going in front inside the first minute. Lee Thompson’s powerfully struck 30-yard effort looked bound for the top corner until Stuart Parsons produced a stunning save to tip the ball over the bar.
However, Romulus took the lead on 17th minutes against the run of play through Edwin Ahenkorha. Stocksbridge were agonisingly close to an equaliser when Ryan Laight hit the post from a Harrison Biggins free-kick.
But on the stroke of half-time Steels fell further behind as Ahenkorha tucked away his second of the game.
Chris Hilton’s side were back in the contest on 55 minutes when Lee Garside headed in from a Brad Grayson cross. But just four minutes later came the pivotal point of the game.
Stocksbridge thought they should had been awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Romulus box but, as the match official waved play on, Romulus broke straight up the other end to score the third as Ahenkorha completed his hat-trick.
Kler Heh had a good chance to pull one back with 20 minutes remaining only to shoot straight at the ‘keeper when well placed. Steels did get to within a goal of the home side as Grayson slotted home from close range in the second minute of time added on - but it came too late to affect the outcome.
Frickley Athletic edged further away from the Premier Division relegation zone after a 1-0 home win over Stourbridge moved them seven points clear of the bottom four.
Matty Bloor’s 31st minute penalty, awarded for a trip on Reece Thompson, proved the difference between the teams.
The Blues were reduced to ten men on 63 minutes when Matt Young was sent off after being adjudged the last man following a foul some 35-yards from goal.
Buxton saw their title hopes dented with a 2-1 defeat at Halesowen Town, which saw the Bucks slip to fourth. Martin McIntosh’s Buxton managed to pull back in the last minute through Greg Young but it proved no more than a consolation effort.
Matlock Town came from behind to pick up a crucial three-points beating relegation rivals Marine 3-2 at Causeway Lane.
Fixtures: Tomorrow, Premier Division: Blyth Spartans v Frickley Athletic.
Division One South: Sheffield FC v Norton United.