STEETON returned to competitive action with a comprehensive 3-0 away win at Pilkington on Saturday in the North West Counties Football League First Division North.

Elliot Owen and Josh McKiernon made their first league starts for Roy Mason’s side, who dominated the second half to ease to victory and condemn the hosts to their first league defeat of the season.

Steeton took the lead in style in the fourth minute from their first attack of the game.

After winning possession back on the edge of their own area, the ball was worked up the field by McKiernon and Kayle Price into the path of Luke Baldwin, who looked up and picked out the top corner from 30 yards out with a breathtaking strike.

Price was then denied a penalty after being felled inside the box, but Pilkington settled into the game after a shaky start and began to have the better chances midway through the half.

Jordan Moorhouse made a great save to deny Adam Gilchrist before both Alistair Morgan and Tyler Marsh made clearances to deny their hosts an equaliser.

Then came a moment of controversy, as a shot from Phil Marsh deflected off Owen’s leg and forced an outstanding tip on to the woodwork from Moorhouse.

The ball appeared to come down off the crossbar and over the line, but the linesman ruled it was not a goal, much to the anger of the home players.

Steeton nearly doubled their lead shortly before the interval, when a goalmouth scramble from a corner somehow saw both Owen and Jake Townsend have shots cleared by the Pilkington defence.

After a quiet start to the second half, the visitors settled down and would go on to control the play for the remainder of the game.

Price was unlucky to not find the net after his shot on the turn went just past the far post, but that proved to be a warning that the home side did not heed.

Moments later, a superb pass cut through the middle of the Pilkington defence, with Ben Wignall on hand to race through unchallenged and slot coolly underneath the keeper.

The visitors were hungry for more and Baldwin, McKiernon and Price all saw shots go just wide or be deflected away from goal.

Pilkington then had their first real chance of the second half, but with an open goal gaping, Tyler Marsh got across to head the danger off the line and out for a corner.

Steeton soon got back on the front foot and they nearly found the elusive third.

But first, Andy Briggs was denied by a superb last-ditch tackle, moments before Morgan could only find the side netting from a header at the far post.

There would be a moment of worry as Pilkington did find the net, but the linesman raised his flag to deny the Merseyside outfit a route back into proceedings.

The introduction of James Wolfenden provided the energy needed to see out proceedings, as his through ball to Baldwin almost produced a second for the lively winger.

Baldwin could not find the net, but he returned the pass to Wolfenden, who took a touch before whipping the ball into the top corner with style from 25 yards.

Briggs was then denied again by another last-ditch challenge, but the job was done as Steeton made the trip back across the Pennines with all three points ahead of Nelson’s visit to Marley on December 28.

That will be the first competitive game played at Steeton's new stadium, after friendlies there against Prestwich Heys and Brighouse Town earlier in the month.