Ossett United kicked off the 2023/24 Pitching In East season in Sheffield with seven players debuting in the league’s starting lineup. Charlie Reaney and Jacob McLoughlin also made their first appearances from the substitutes’ bench.

The home team initiated a strong start, shaping the game into a competitive encounter. It was the hosts who had the initial opportunity, as former Ossett United striker Luke Aldrich created space for himself in the penalty area, delivering a powerful shot on target that Joe Green in the Ossett goal saved splendidly.

Sheffield denied Ossett any chance to establish control in the early stages, taking the lead at the half-hour mark. An exceptional finish from Nathan Modest into the top corner broke the deadlock, much to the frustration of the Ossett side. They believed Harry Coates had been fouled by Luke Mangham in the build-up as the captain attempted to clear the danger in his penalty area.

As the first half progressed, Ossett endeavoured to assert their presence in the game. A dangerous free-kick from Gregory narrowly missed several Ossett attackers as they sought to equalise.

In the closing moments of the first half, Ossett found themselves with ten men after Paddy Miller sustained an injury. He was replaced by Fabian Bailey during the halftime interval. Sheffield held a deserved lead at this point.

Grant Black’s team began the second half with greater urgency, pressuring the home goal. Gregory’s shot was blocked, and Ibrahim collected the loose ball before returning it to the danger zone. The ball eventually reached Gregory, who fired over from an angle.

However, the visitors’ comeback suffered a setback, much to the dismay of their travelling supporters. Sheffield’s early second-half pressure resulted in them doubling their lead. Modest secured his second goal, finding space in the area and heading home from a well-taken corner.

Yet, just two minutes later, the comeback was revived. Amponsah’s excellent work on the right flank enabled him to beat two defenders before delivering a dangerous cross into the area. Ferreira stretched for the ball, but it was Sheffield’s Sam Greenhouse who made the decisive touch, reducing the home side’s lead.

Sheffield remained resolute in their efforts as Ossett pushed forward. The opportunities were limited to half-chances, with TJ Ibrahim sending one effort over from outside the area. Solid defending thwarted dangerous crosses.

While Ossett continued to press, it was Sheffield who extended their lead. The formidable and menacing Luke Mangham delivered a cross from the right, which Benni Ndlovu turned home with only two minutes remaining.

A dramatic finale was still in store as Charlie Reaney was brought down in the area. Rafa Ferreira stepped up from twelve yards, but his well-struck low shot was expertly saved by Jordan Pierrepont.

Undeterred, Ossett came close once more as the game reached its conclusion. Woodcock’s deep cross was headed wide by Amponsah.

Although the league campaign didn’t begin as the team had hoped, Grant Black found positives in the match. He acknowledged a slow start in the first half but saw promise in the team’s attacking capabilities. He recognised that greater tactical savvy as the new side gels together will yield more positive results as the season progresses.