Following the withdrawal of Tividale from the match on Tuesday night due to the heat wave, Stafford Town travelled to Crown Meadow to take on AFC Bridgnorth on Thursday evening, coming away with a 1-0 win in a competitive game. Bridgnorth are always tough opponents at home and both sides played some good football in spells despite the poor condition of the pitch; the match ultimately decided by a superb goal by ‘Kaz’ Danilian on the half hour mark. The opening fifteen minutes were somewhat frantic, Stafford kicking down the notorious slope and looking to get the ball into the box from wide areas through Nathan Scott and Ryan Taylor and although they managed to do so on several occasions, Bridgnorth defended the box well and managed to clear. Long-serving Bridgnorth midfielder Jason Pike was causing Stafford the most problems with some excellent long passes into the corners whilst Stafford defenders Matt Dudley and Charlie Swingwood were also bringing their experience of the pitch as former Bridgnorth players to bear, as they controlled the Bridgnorth frontline and started the Stafford attacks from the back. Pike put in one very strong challenge on Ben Wood, first getting the ball but catching the Stafford man high on the knee with his follow through; something which may have been viewed differently by a referee in a competitive game. After a 21st minute low shot from the hosts was saved by Joe Williams in the Stafford goal, Josh Oultram managed to roll his defender on the edge of the box before firing a shot over the bar. Bridgnorth were finding it more difficult to press Stafford as the half wore on, the visitors beginning to move the ball well with Sean Kinsella often calming things down, forcing the hosts to defend deep for extended periods. Stafford took the lead in the 30th minute, a prolonged spell of possession eventually found Danilian in some space and he curled the ball into the net from distance, the Bridgnorth ‘keeper perhaps initially unsighted. Bridgnorth almost equalised in the 36th minute, a free kick into the box from the left resulting in a flicked header that hit the bar before the follow up was put over. HT 1-0 Stafford Town. Stafford introduced Henry Smith in central defence whilst youngsters Max Gibbs-Boddie, Dan Kelly, Will Bates and Remay Porter also entered the fray. Bridgnorth were able to put Stafford under more pressure in the second period as they were now going down the slope, but clear chances were hard to come by and Stafford looked to counter. One such break resulted in a clever ball through to Bates by Porter but the shot was blocked. After Pike almost caught out Gibbs-Boddie from distance with a lofted effort, an excellent jinking run by Danilian on the edge of the box in the 63rd minute ended with another shot by Bates that was saved. Bridgnorth had a free kick comfortably saved a few minutes later, before a 79th minute Stafford break down the right resulted in a cut back to the lively Porter who set the ball back for Huewlan Wright to drag just wide across the goal. A superb 85th minute Bridgnorth free kick delivered into the box from the left almost resulted in an equaliser for the hosts, but no final touch was forthcoming. Stafford had defended well throughout and looked solid for the majority of the match, Scott having the final meaningful action of the game with a good shot that was well held by the Bridgnorth ‘keeper. FT 1-0 Stafford Town. Stafford’s final two matches of pre-season see them first travel to Loughborough on Saturday 23rd July to take on United Counties Division 1 side Barrow Town, before a third consecutive away match with West Midlands Regional League Division 1 side Allscott on Tuesday 26th July.
Best of the acdtion can be found at Stafford Town TV: