STEETON began the 2023/24 North West Counties Football League First Division North season in disappointing fashion, capitulating to a 4-0 defeat on the road at Atherton Laburnum Rovers.

Conceding after just 18 seconds, the Chevrons fell to a three-goal deficit inside the opening quarter of an hour before letting a fourth in on the stroke of half-time.

And despite Roy Mason making all five substitutions available to him at the break, all the damage had already been done.

The tone for the afternoon was set from the kick-off as the home side put the ball straight into the Steeton area allowing Kyle Robinson-Murray to put the ball into the net.

Those in green and white were completely shellshocked and it showed as the second goal soon followed in the fourth minute.

Robinson-Murray made a break into the box but was brought down by James Edgley as the centre half lunged into the challenge to try and win the ball.

Lewis Rawthorn in turn sent James Catlow the wrong way from the spot to double his side's advantage.

Steeton did have a chance to get back into the game, but Josh Coe was denied by a good save from Joe Bickerstaffe.

The goalkeeper sent the ball long and won a corner and the third Laburnums goal shortly followed.

From the corner, three men in yellow all lost their markers, with Lewis Adams the first to get his head to the ball and make the score 3-0 with just 15 minutes on the clock.

Steeton could have got back into the game if not for a series of excellent stops from Bickerstaffe between the sticks for the hosts.

Frustrations though boiled over from the visitors and resulted in the Chevvies being temporarily reduced to 10 men.

The referee awarded a free kick against Jake Townsend when the Steeton man felt he had won the ball.

The winger’s expression of frustration was not appreciated by the officials and in turn, he was sent to the sinbin for dissent.

Townsend returned from the bin and immediately forced another good save from Bickerstaffe, but the home side still found time before the break to find their fourth goal.

From a long ball forward, the Steeton defence allowed the ball to bounce inside the area, gifting Rawthorn the time and space to smash the ball past Catlow for his second goal of the game.

The response was swift and immediate from Mason as he introduced all five of his available substitutes from the bench at the break.

With the game already won, tensions simmered throughout the second half, with the two sides exchanging unpleasantries.

And it resulted in the hosts being reduced to 10 men as James Flight kicked out at Toby Jeffrey after the two both went for the same ball.

It was not long before the two sets of players collided once more after Rawthorn was left on the ground by a mid-air collision with Ed Ogunkoya.

Chances were at a minimum for both teams, however a second penalty of the afternoon was awarded to the Laburnums after the officials spotted holding in the box from a corner.

This time however, Catlow got down low to make a save and deny Rawthorn his hat-trick.

Rawthorn was again denied his hat-trick soon after, Catlow making a superb last ditch save after the striker lost his marker to get a shot off from the edge of the six-yard area.

Steeton created two chances late on to deny their hosts a clean sheet, David Moore however tracked back to make two exceptional blocks to make sure his side finished the opening day top of the table.