Stafford Town’s poor run of form since the start of 2022 continued as they lost 2-1 to Cammell Laird, meaning they have only recorded a solitary point from the last three matches. Stafford conceded two sloppy goals in a poor twenty minute spell that they were unable to overturn despite completely dominating the ball for well over an hour as Laird looked to defend their lead with everyone behind the ball. Stafford began the game slightly the brighter, getting the ball into wide areas to cross three times in the opening five minutes, but the ball into the box was either blocked or evaded the Stafford forwards. Laird then took the lead in the tenth minute, some awful Stafford marking at a corner saw two attackers free, but only one was needed to simply head home. Conceding such a poor goal disrupted Stafford for the next fifteen minutes as they lost all shape and composure, over-committing bodies forward and allowing Laird to cause problems on the break. Laird doubled the lead in the 25th minute with their best move of the match; after Stafford cheaply conceded possession a good diagonal ball out to the right led to a low cross and near post finish. Another break by Laird on the half hour saw them hit the post with a shot from the edge of the box before Stafford pulled a goal back a minute later, a cut back to the edge of the area allowing Ben Wood to fire past the ‘keeper. The goal shook Stafford out of their lethargy somewhat and they resumed a measure of control in the game. There was then controversy in the 37th minute as Stafford looked to have equalised; a high ball into the box appeared to be simply dropped by the Laird ‘keeper at the far post and the ball subsequently poked over the line, however the referee disallowed the goal for what he perceived to be a foul on the ‘keeper by a Stafford player, although any contact looked to be minimal. HT 2-1 Cammell Laird. It was obvious from the outset of the second half that Laird were satisfied to simply hold onto their lead, leaving their strikers almost completely isolated upfront to feed on scraps and putting everyone else behind the ball. Stafford looked to press the game into the opposition half and dominated possession, but the majority of their attacks were predictable and Laird defended stoutly, willing to put their bodies on the line when required. In the 55th minute ‘Kaz’ Danilian jinked his way into the box on the left before seeing his shot blocked and having another effort saved minutes later as Stafford attacked through the middle. The only chance of the half for Laird came in the 62nd minute, a clear attack down the middle ending with a weak finish when it perhaps should have ended in a goal. Stafford then had two chances in two minutes, seeing a superb cross by Ryan Taylor well defended and Josh Wilson shooting just over the bar. Stafford were pressing hard and it was in this period that an equaliser appeared most likely, which would have set up a tense finish. Fresh legs were introduced as Stafford attempted to force a breakthrough, giving young Ruben Cooner the chance to make his competitive debut in adult football. As the final five minutes approached Taylor got to the byline and cut the ball back into the box for Declan Arber to have his shot blocked not once but twice before another follow up effort saw Stafford speculatively appeal for handball. After a final cross by Taylor in the 90th minute came to nothing, Stafford were forced to endure a long, miserable journey home with nothing but regrets and frustration. FT 2-1 Cammell Laird. Stafford will look to return to form by continuing their recent nine-game unbeaten streak at home but face a stern test with the visit of fifth-placed Wythenshawe Amateurs on Saturday 29th January, quickly followed by the rearranged midweek game against Maine Road on Tuesday 1st February.