Colwyn Bay 1 Stocksbridge Park Steels 1
GARY FINLEY’S half-time tactical changes maintained his unbeaten league record as Colwyn Bay manager in front of a crowd of more than 400 at Llanelian Road.
And in the end the Seagulls were only denied victory by a series of fine second-half saves by away keeper Steve Hodgson.
Colwyn Bay had struggled to compete in the first half, giving away possession too easily and conceding too many free-kicks in midfield.
That proved costly on 21 minutes when a free-kick into the area by Stocksbridge skipper Steve Hawes was headed on for Stuart Copnell to score with a right-foot volley across keeper Matt Parry.
It took Colwyn Bay 30 minutes to get their first effort on target, with Tim Brandreth heading narrowly wide from John Boardman’s free-kick, and Hodgson had only one comfortable save from a John Lawless free-kick to make before half time.
But Finley switched things round to great effect at the interval, moving Lawless from the left to the right wing, putting Martin Crowder out on the left and bringing Alex Kevan off the bench into the centre of midfield in place of Lewis Callaghan.
Kevan made an immediate impact and, with Stocksbridge at last put under pressure and stretched at the back, Colwyn Bay were level within 10 minutes of the restart.
Neil Black broke clear on the right and his cross over Hodgson found Crowder beyond the far post and he fired in a first-time shot.
Stocksbridge sub Ben Walker went close to restoring his side’s lead from a quickly taken free-kick, but it was a revitalised Colwyn Bay who dominated an excellent second half.
Hodgson made a diving stop to foil Black, held onto a shot from Kevan after a good break by Crowder, and then made an outstanding diving save to push away a fierce shot from Lawless, with Darren Wright first to reach the loose ball but blasting his shot over the bar.
Lawless had a goalbound volley blocked by a defender, and then in the closing minutes Hodgson rescued his side again with a point-blank save from Kenny Burgess, with the ball rebounding between two Bay players who were following in with an open goal in front of them.
“We changed the way were playing at half time with the tactical switches,” said manager Gary Finley afterwards.
“After that we were camped in their half and should have won the game.”