Before kick off Sporting found themselves top of the form charts for November and on top form in the league, Manager Mark Crawford stressed many times before hand that the games result was not a given despite Stonham languishing at the bottom of the table. Sporting could ill afford to play it easy and would need to pull off another performance if they were to maintain their league winning streak.
Chris Smith making his début today would add to the already formidable array of Sporting talent in the midfield area.
Crawford looked to tried and tested talent as several players omitted from the previous squad looked to make a return and provide a stern test for Lowly Stonham.
Referee J. Cope began the game with a firm blow of his whistle and the game commenced.
Sporting came charging out of the blocks from the off with Manning and Krogh providing the width and stretching Stonham from the get go. Nolan returning to the starting line up for the first time this season looked to prove a point and exerted his authority as time and again he shut out Stonham's midfield. Smith, making his début brought an air of calm to the midfield as early on he demonstrated his cool by easily stepping past two of Stonham's players to release Krogh down the wing, who in turn drove hard and fast at the back tracking Stonham defence. Krogh struck fear into the hearts of Stonham and whipped in a crisp ball for the onrushing Barton and Bailey only for the resulting shot to be gathered up by Stonham's Keeper, the bar had been set.
Sporting wouldn't have to wait long for their first as on 14 minutes Krogh was released again down the wing by Smith and Krogh whipped a delicious cross that was gobbled up by Barton as he struck a thumping header which looped over the statuesque Stonham keeper and put Sporting in the driving seat.
It was the charge of the light brigade as Sporting continued to throw everything into their attack, nothing would deny them their conquest and Nolan charged about the pitch like a spartan and was nearly rewarded when a well struck volley was palmed away by Stonham's keeper. Manning had been somewhat isolated on the left wing but when Bailey and Manning combined well on the left it split Stonham apart leaving the ball to find its way to Barton who after some quick feet and deft skill managed to turn two Stonham defenders before slotting away Sporting's and his second of the game.
The second goal seemed to rouse Stonham who pushed forwards hard however Brown, Taylor, Ginn and Bryson held firm and broke down each wave of attack. The free flowing football of Sporting seemed to falter in the latter stages of the half as Stonham piled players forward and continued to hassle and harry. The whistle blew and Sporting were pleased to come in 2-0 up.
Manager Mark Crawford had some cautionary words at half time and urged his players to be clever when attacking and not charge, gung ho down the field.
The second half kicked off and it was not long before Crawford's half-time MAOAM turned sour in his mouth as Sporting conceded early on after a shot took a wicked deflection and looped over Page's head to give Stonham glimmer of hope.
The game dissolved into a battle as possession was given away cheaply on both sides, Bailey and Manning becoming peripheral figures in game that looked to be slipping away from Sporting. Smith looked tired midway through the second half as a lack of match fitness began to catch up with him but it did not stop him from a neat interplay with Nolan before the ball was released again to the swift footed Krogh who burst forward and delivered another fine cross.
Barton had read the ball perfectly and with some invention, fashioned a left footed scissor kick that shot past Stonham's Keeper and put Sporting back on top. Stonham however had not read the script and after a foul on the edge of the box, the free kick was hit well and looped again over Page into the top corner of his net.
After much deliberation on the sidelines, Crawford released Herrera onto the field of play and after only a few minutes he wriggled free of Stonham's defence and was met well with a pass from Bailey. Herrera uncharacteristically turned well and released a curling effort that painfully only hit the crossbar.
Sporting held on in the final minutes of the game and the whistle blew to confirm another victory and a perfect hat-trick of Head, Right foot, Left foot for Sporting's Barton the stand out Man of the Match.
After a hard fought victory attentions would now turn to Sporting's top of the table clash with Bacton who sit in 2nd place and rival Sporting's achievements in the league. An eagerly anticipated fixture and one that will require more of a cutting edge than what was on display in today’s game.
Unconfirmed reports state that Nolan could indeed of scored a better perfect hat-trick, given the opportunity and that Herrera's turn had the underworld brace itself for a cold snap.