Stafford Town finally have their first win of 2022; a 2-1 comeback victory over Barnton that snaps a run of five games without a win. Stafford were pondering whether to consult a witch doctor to break the form curse that was seemingly upon them, especially when they fell behind in the first half after dominating but second half goals from Charlie Swingwood and a Harry Bowers penalty saw Stafford turn the result on its head. After the referee eventually deemed the pitch playable, albeit slippery, Stafford began the game the better of the two sides. In particular, widemen Nathan Scott and Ryan Taylor were stretching the pitch as wide as possible, Barnton struggling to cover the ground and close them quickly. In the 7th minute a Taylor free kick was well saved by the Barnton ‘keeper for a corner. Two minutes later a run and cross from the left by Taylor was cleared at the back post. Scott then drove down the right and cut the ball back to ‘Kaz’ Danilian in the box but his shot was saved and Taylor put the follow up over the bar. Barnton had offered little thus far, a shot dragged wide from the edge of the box in the 13th minute their only meaningful attack of note as midfield general Charlie Swingwood and defenders Jamie Weldon, Matt Dudley and Harry Bowers had comfortably dealt with direct balls forward. It was thus a sign of Stafford’s recent fortunes that Barnton should take the lead, a 15th minute free kick into the box was only partially cleared, a powerful follow up shot from the edge of the area flying into the top corner. Unlike recent games however, Stafford did not lose confidence, continuing to play positively and they should have equalised in the 27th minute, a cross by Declan Arber dropping free in the box but no Stafford player was in the vicinity to finish. Matt Pinder then had two good chances for Stafford, glancing a header wide from a Josh Wilson corner and having a shot blocked after being played through by Scott. Stafford ‘keeper Henry Smith made an excellent double save with ten minutes remaining in the half after a dangerous Barnton attack down the right. Another run and cross down the left by Taylor was well defended in the 38th minute, before a Scott cross dropped to Danilian for another shot in the box that was blocked as the half drew to a close. HT 1-0 Barnton. Stafford continued to put Barnton under pressure at the start of the second half, Arber releasing Scott down the right, allowing him to cut in at goal but his lofted finish flicked off the bar and over. Taylor had a curling effort pushed wide before Stafford deservedly equalised in the 55th minute, Swingwood rising like an electrified salmon to head home from a Wilson corner. Substitute Morgan Payne then shot wide two minutes later and Arber had another shot saved as Stafford looked to finish a breakaway in the 62nd minute. Stafford were then awarded a 64th minute penalty for a foul on Scott in the box, Bowers sending the ‘keeper the wrong way to give Stafford the lead. Barnton began to throw more men forward and Stafford had to dig in for the remaining twenty minutes to hold onto the points. Some superb forward play by Arber on numerous occasions allowed Stafford to drain the time in the corners and not over commit men forward. Barnton did offer some scares however, curling one effort over and twice having the ball in the back of the net only to see the linesman raise his flag for offside. After managing to see out the remainder of regulation and a further agonising seven minutes of injury time, the referee brought proceedings to a close and Stafford celebrated a much needed three points that arrests their current slide. FT 2-1 Stafford Town. Stafford will be aiming for back-to-back wins as they make the relatively short trip to North Staffordshire rivals Abbey Hulton United on Saturday 12th February before welcoming second-placed FC Isle of Man to Evans Park on Saturday 19th February for an early 1.45pm kick-off.
Best of the footage is available as always at Stafford Town TV: https://youtu.be/3jAPw1LoF2g