Home cup match played on 05 April 2022.
Kicked off at 7:45 PM

Stafford Town extended their season with a 2-0 victory in the Macron Cup First Round, defeating Staffordshire rivals Eccleshall at Evans Park as goals either side of halftime for Declan Arber and Morgan Payne saw Stafford knock their opponents out of a second cup competition this season. A Second Round bye owing to the withdrawals of Ellesmere Rangers and St. Martins will now see Stafford travel to Congleton Town for a place in the Quarter Finals. Eccleshall looked to get on the front foot early, shooting wide in the box in just the second minute and looking to get the ball into the Stafford half at every opportunity. Stafford’s first meaningful attack came down the left but Payne over-ran the ball without getting off a shot before Eccleshall glanced a header wide from a corner. Stafford ‘keeper Beau Hudd easily saved an Eccleshall shot from the edge of the area in the 15th minute and saw another slashed wide of the target a few minutes later when Stafford failed to properly clear a free kick into the box. A driving run by Arber on the left in the 21st minute looked dangerous but although he managed to get into the box, he couldn’t get off a shot. Stafford had finally settled into the game and began to get more time on the ball, Under-21 graduate Dan Kelly impressing on his first senior start this season alongside Josh Wilson in midfield. Eccleshall were being forced to work hard all over the pitch to prevent chances whilst Matt Dudley and Charlie Swingwood began to get the better of the Eccleshall frontline. In the 39th minute Ben Wood did well to win the ball high in the Eccleshall half, the ball inside to Wilson allowing him to shoot from the edge of the area but the effort was tipped wide for a corner by the ‘keeper. Stafford took the lead just before halftime, a period of extended possession ending with an Arber shot from the edge of the box that may have taken a slight deflection, the ball skewing away from the ‘keeper into the bottom corner. HT 1-0 Stafford Town. In the first minute of the second half, Wood volleyed over from distance before an Eccleshall diagonal out to the right caught out the Stafford defence, forcing Hudd into an excellent save with his feet to keep Stafford in front. Stafford extended the lead in the 54th minute, the ball breaking down for Eccleshall in midfield and passed forward for Arber to slip it through to Payne in the box; the youngster initially looked to have taken too long, however he was able to round the ‘keeper and finish. The second goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of the visitors and Stafford began to dominate, Payne having another shot from distance tipped wide for a corner. Arber then saw a low shot of his own from distance saved before Payne was denied by a last ditch tackle in the box less than a minute later. After a rare Eccleshall chance was easily saved by Hudd, a Stafford counter ended with Payne shooting wide following a good pass by substitute ‘Kaz’ Danilian. Nathan Scott then dragged an effort wide in the 73rd minute and Payne followed suit two minutes later before an outstanding dribble through the middle by Danilian ended in a shot over by Arber. Another good shot from distance by Danilian was saved for a corner before an outstanding run by Swingwood down the right flank saw him cut the ball back to young substitute Will Bates, who saw his shot saved. Stafford looked to manage the last five minutes, but a scooped ball by Eccleshall into the Stafford box ended with a shot that hit the post, although it looked as though Hudd had his angles covered had the effort been on target. A final Eccleshall free kick into the box in the 87th minute resulted in a header that was well wide before the referee brought an end to proceedings, leaving Stafford to celebrate their progression to the next round. FT 2-0 Stafford Town. Stafford will need to be at their best to progress any further in the competition, taking on Congleton Town away in the Third Round on Saturday 9th April. Even if they are eliminated, Stafford would still have at least one game left this season, as they contest the Third Round of the First Division Challenge Cup (Edward Case Cup) against either Barnton or Cammell Laird in the coming weeks. Highlights of the game can be found at Stafford Town TV: https://youtu.be/l_gUOTv2v_4

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