STEETON suffered a heartbreaking FA Vase defeat on penalties at home to Jarrow on Saturday, but manager Roy Mason believes his side still have plenty to be positive about, including a historic opening league game.

They kick off their North West Counties League First Division North season at phoenix club Bury AFC on October 3.

The original Bury were kicked out of League One last August, with the club in serious debt and a last-minute takeover bid falling through.

The new boys are likely to be challenging for the title, and Mason cannot wait to tackle them.

He said: "It's the one game we wanted to start with, Bury away. The media spotlight will be on them and for us to be part of the occasion, it's great for the club.

"They're also one of the favourites to win the league, and you usually want to play those teams early, as they're likely to have less rhythm.

"They're also a new side, who might need time to gel."

It will be Steeton's first competitive game since the defeat to Jarrow.

They were 2-0 down with 10 minutes to go on Saturday, but James Wolfenden netted a screamer to pull them back to within one, before Andy Briggs levelled the game with a last-gasp equaliser.

The game went straight to penalties, with poor Freddie Maddocks the fall guy, missing the 19th spot-kick as Steeton lost the shootout 9-8.

Discussing the game, Mason said: "It just shows football can give you those highs and lows.

"That 15 minute spell, culminating in the 96th minute equaliser, was amazing, and I thought we deserved to be level.

"But then there was the heartache of missing out in the lottery of the shootout. For me, we didn't lose the game, we drew 2-2 and just went out in a lottery.

"We made two sloppy mistakes for their goals, but in the second half especially, I thought we showed so much character.

"Kayle Price hit the post then put a header just wide in injury time, and we were thinking it wouldn't be our day, but Andy Briggs popped up at the death to take it to penalties."

Mason was full of praise for his striker Briggs, who has not had the best of luck over the last year.

He said: "Everyone thinks Andy's really experienced, but he's still only 22, it's just that he's been playing for the first team since he was 16.

"We've just been trying to nurse him back over pre-season, as he's been out for 12 months.

"He's suffered with injuries and had to have a knee operation as a result. We're working with him and the physio to manage his workload.

"He's probably still about two weeks off starting a game, but you could see he made the difference on Saturday."

But Briggs' goal against Jarrow ended up being in vain, and it was left to Mason to console devastated youngster Maddocks after his decisive penalty miss.

The Chevrons boss said: "Freddie was in tears afterwards, but the first thing I did after they scored the winning penalty was put my arm round him and we had a chat.

"I told him not to worry as it happens. Besides we win or lose as a team.

"Freddie had a great game and there's no blame attached to him. It takes a lot of bottle to take a penalty in the first place."

All the drama on Saturday took place at Barnoldswick's Silentnight stadium, as Marley is still not quite ready for action.

Steeton's first game there is due to be a league clash with Cleator Moor Celtic on October 17.

Giving us the latest update on the new stadium, Mason said: "We requested that our first couple of league games be away from home, as it just buys us that bit of extra time.

"We've just started laying the turf for the new pitch, and we had a working party down there on Sunday.

"They were just having a look at the bar area, and sorting all that out, as well as the changing rooms and doing a little bit of work on the stand too.

"We're excited as it's all starting to come into place and feel a bit more real now."

One of those early away games while the finishing touches are being applied to Marley was supposed to be at Shelley on October 13.

But the Huddersfield-based side announced their resignation from the league on Saturday, citing financial concerns as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Giving his thoughts on the news, Mason said: "It's sad what's happened to Shelley.

"I know Ash Berry and Howard Cartledge well (Shelley's manager and assistant manager respectively) and they're both good lads.

"But from the chats I had with Howard last week, the finances are just not there for them.

"I fear they won't be the last team that this happens to, with more lockdowns coming in and the possibility of having no crowds again."