Atherton Laburnum Rovers 0

Steeton 3

STEETON heaped more misery on rock-bottom club as Andy Briggs' hat-trick saw Steeton move up into fifth, as well as keep their first clean sheet since the back end of August in Hallmark Security League Division One North.

The hosts started by attempting to come out from the back, they quickly realised that Briggs and Ben Clarkson weren't going to let that happen. It was Briggs who had the first sighter when Toby Jeffrey gave him the ball, Briggs wayward effort skewed wide but it was the start of Steeton's dominance in the opening period.

Just a couple of minutes later, pressure from Clarkson saw the hosts give it away, Clarkson stole the ball and looked to feed his strike partner, but Briggs could not convert.

The hosts high-line in the opening minutes was exposed. Stevie Pearson played a long ball in the path of Briggs, as his fortuitous headed touch brought it round the on-rushing goalkeeper, leaving Briggs to tap home.

Briggs saw himself bearing down on goal once again, however the keeper was in the way, as he parried the ball back out, but Angus Maney couldn't make contact from 12 yards out.

Captain Tim Hird was forced off with an injury, his departure from the field gave an opportunity for Aaron Davis. He went out to the right-hand side, Jeffrey partnered Toby Rawcliffe in midfield.

It took just three minutes for the ex-Silsden man to mark his involvement, Davis combined with Jeffrey, who crossed for Briggs and he scored with a header.

Just two minutes later, two almost became three, Jeffrey's ball was headed back across by Pearson for his centre-half partner Sam Rooke, who bundled in, but the linesman adjudged him to be offside.

More good Briggs work led to him laying it on a plate for Maney, who couldn't sweep it beyond the goalkeeper from a favourable position.

Briggs could have had his hat-trick earlier than he did. Joe Mason's long ball was latched onto by the frontman, who was called offside as he put it into the net by the assistant.

The hosts eventually turned up after a dominant 35 minutes from Roy Mason's side. Fantastic skill on the touchline led to a shot going way over Alfie Stevens-Neale's bar.

However, with three minutes to go until half-time, Steeton could count themselves lucky that their clean-sheet was intact as they headed into the break, a dipping effort left Stevens-Neale stranded as the ball hit the angle of post and bar.

Half-time came and went, Steeton started the second-half in similar dominant fashion to the first. Toby Jeffrey looked to etch his name on the scoresheet but only won a corner for his trouble. Rooke headed over as Steeton looked for a third.

Clarkson looked to join his strike partner on the scoresheet, but his effort was intercepted by the defender on his way back.

Steeton got away with another one on 56 minutes. Stevens-Neale came off his line to head away, that was only as far as an Atherton body, who tried to take his opportunity quickly, with Pearson blocking the effort.

Stevens-Neale almost had an assist. His huge kick was latched onto by Clarkson and despite some deliberation from the covering defenders, his flick wasn't heavy enough to make it three.

Davis almost made it three himself, good work from Clarkson ended up with Davis having the ball, his effort flashed wide as Steeton looked to finish it.

Pearson, along with the back four as a whole, consisting of Mason, Rooke, Pearson and Elliott Scott - read the game perfectly as he was required when Stevens-Neale was beaten to the ball.

Rooke will be slightly aggrieved he didn't grab a goal in Atherton. His hooked effort crashed against the bar as Steeton continued to press, this was coupled with Aaron Hollindrake's introduction, who did a great job of piecing the play in midfield to attack.

Briggs had his hat-trick which finished the game off. He pounced on a mistake from the goalkeeper to make it his and Steeton's third of the afternoon.

He was immediately replaced by Freddie Maddocks who seamlessly joined the defence in their efforts to secure an elusive clean-sheet.

Steeton: Stevens-Neale, Mason, Scott, Rooke, Pearson, Hird (c) (Davis 16), Jeffrey, Rawcliffe, Clarkson (Hollindrake 68), Briggs (Maddocks 82), Maney. Unused: Morgan.