STEETON fell at the first hurdle in this season’s Edward Case First Division Challenge Cup with 3-1 defeat away at Holker Old Boys.

With a number of first team regulars unavailable, Roy Mason was forced into several changes and with it an unused system.

But a makeshift Chevrons side put in a much-improved performance than that of the past few weeks.

And it is a showing that leaves Mason with a number of selection headaches ahead of Saturday’s return to North West Counties Football League Division One action in a West Yorkshire derby against Shelley.

On a windy Cumbrian evening, Steeton began brightly and were denied the opening goal in contentious circumstances.

Jake Townsend broke down the left wing and put a teasing cross across the face of the Holker goal.

The wind got behind the delivery and carried it over the goalkeeper into the back of the net.

The referee, who became a focal point throughout, ruled the goal out for a foul by Rory Langdon, despite the forward’s late run coming after the ball had crossed the line.

Josh McKiernon received a soft yellow card midway through the half after clipping the heels of a Holker man in a 50/50 challenge.

With the weather conditions playing a huge factor as both sides struggled to get a stranglehold of a tight first 45 minutes, it would be Steeton who created the half's other big chance late on.

Langdon beat the offside trap and sent the ball inside to the supporting Ezio De Santis, but the latter’s strike went straight into the hands of the home keeper.

The second half began with the two sides deadlocked across the park, but another contentious refereeing decision turned the tide.

Feeling aggrieved that an offside call was not given, a number of Steeton players asked the question of the linesman.

James Edgley was sin-binned as a result of the protests, much to the anger of the Chevrons bench.

Just two minutes into their temporary reduction of numbers, another harsh call, this time a handball against Langdon, resulted in a free-kick to Holker.

Jamie Hodgson composed himself to bend the ball superbly over the wall and across James Catlow’s blindside to break the deadlock.

With parity restored following Edgley’s return from the bin, Steeton squandered a great opportunity to level as Josh Coe’s curling effort was well stopped after a great drive through the middle of the park by De Santis.

But the next goal went the way of the home side, with the man in the middle again the talking point.

Alfie Gibbon, on debut after signing earlier in the day from Yorkshire Amateur, got across to deal with a counter-attack but slipped into the path of the onrushing Frankie Ellis.

The referee immediately pointed to the spot despite players from both sides pleading Gibbon’s case.

Brandon Collins composed himself to slot the ball past the outstretched arm of Catlow from twelve yards.

The game as a contest was ended shortly after.

A superb save from Catlow denied Ellis, but the Old Boys kept the ball alive.

They worked it back out towards the edge of the area, Will McGladdery taking a glance up before superbly finishing from range.

There was at least a well-earned consolation for the visitors in the game's closing stages.

From a Toby Jeffrey free kick, the Holker defence allowed the ball to bounce inside the area.

McKiernon fired a strike across the face of goal, where Louis Fialdini read the shot superbly to slot home unchallenged at the far post.

A superb save then denied Townsend in injury time, thwarting any hopes of a sensational Steeton comeback.