Stafford Town are beginning to turn Evans Park into somewhat of a fortress, beating third-placed Abbey Hey 2-1 to make it five consecutive home victories in the league. Abby Hey, winners of twelve of their past thirteen league matches took the lead, but two goals from Declan Arber including one in the 95th minute had the proverbial champagne corks flying for Stafford. Stafford began the game well, a 9th minute forward ball flicked on by Josh Oultram released Declan Arber but his shot was wide. A minute later Abbey also put a chance wide with a follow-up shot after an initial effort had been pushed wide by Stafford ‘keeper Sam Amedu. Both sides were beginning to play some neat and tidy football, moving the ball in triangles and making for an entertaining watch. Abbey, who had only been lacking the final ball in their play, took the lead in the 17th minute; Charlie Swingwood denied a foul as he drove out with the ball which allowed an Abbey through ball into the box, followed by a cut back and shot that cruelly deflected past Amedu into the corner. Stafford almost equalised two minutes later, a swift counter from an Abbey corner finishing with an inviting cross by Kyle Ashman that saw Arber stretching for the ball at the far post, the ball going just wide. Arber didn’t have to wait long to get on the scoresheet however, drilling the ball into the corner from the edge of the box when he was afforded too much space by the Abbey defence. Some good attacking interplay by the Abbey frontline in the 24th minute led to a shot that was saved by Amedu. Whilst the first 35 minutes of the match had been pretty even, the final ten minutes of the half saw Abbey enjoy their most dominant spell of the game as Stafford began to neglect possession of the ball and became preoccupied with the counter attack, often predictably forcing the ball forward and conceding possession unnecessarily. During this period Stafford were forced to withstand a number of dangerous corners and free kicks into the box but defenders Chris Anderson, Henry Smith and Harry Bowers held firm until halftime, midfielders Swingwood and Ben Wood and wingbacks Ashman and Ryan Taylor also showing superb discipline to track back when required. HT 1-1. There was a good chance for Abbey just three minutes into the second half as Stafford lost possession in their own half, an incisive one-two leading to a shot that was slashed wide. In the 52nd minute Anderson broke defensive ranks down the right with an outstanding run and cross into the box, the ball dropping to Oultram but his shot was blocked for a corner. Stafford almost took the lead ten minutes later, Josh Wilson unleashing a curling shot from 25 yards that had the Abbey ‘keeper beaten but the ball crashed off the crossbar to safety. Abbey were always a danger at the back of Stafford minds, a 75th minute free kick on the left floated to the back post headed just wide. Amedu then received lengthy treatment following his involvement in a heavy collision with an Abbey attacker, both players attention focussed solely on the ball as it was crossed into the box. Abbey thought they had taken the lead in the 84th minute, Amedu saving an initial shot only for the ball to be finished by a free Abbey player; fortunately for Stafford he was offside however. In the 90th minute a nervy ball back to Amedu was closed down by Abbey but the chance eventually came to nothing. As the game ticked into the fifth minute of injury time Stafford looked to be heading for their first draw of the season, which would have been a credible one given the quality nature of the opposition but Stafford had other ideas. A free kick for Stafford was smartly played short by Smith to Wilson, Abbey expecting the ball to have been played into the box directly; Wilson subsequently fed the ball into Arber on the edge of the box, the defender getting too tight and allowing him to roll and unleash a shot that flew past the ‘keeper to send the ground into raptures. FT 2-1 Stafford Town. Next up for Stafford is a unique away trip to take on FC Isle of Man on Saturday 6th November followed by a more conventional away day in Manchester against Cheadle Heath Nomads a week later on Saturday 13th November.
As always the best of the action can be found at Stafford Town TV; https://youtu.be/s99jyiLxRhc