Home league match played on 19 February 2022.
Kicked off at 1:30 PM

Stafford Town’s recent run of home defeats continued as they lost 5-1 to second-placed FC Isle of Man at Evans Park. The final score however does not reflect that Stafford were much the better side in the first half but somehow went into the break 2-1 down, before fading in the second half as IOM showed higher energy levels and a ruthless streak that Stafford are currently lacking. Stafford should have had a penalty in the third minute when Matt Pinder was brought down by the IOM ‘keeper having been slipped through by Declan Arber but to the disbelief of everyone present the referee appeared oblivious to the foul and did not point to the spot. Stafford were keeping possession far better than the visitors, who struggled to string passes together and were guilty of cheaply putting the ball out of play on several occasions as they simply looked to get the ball forward and delivered into the box. After several IOM snapshots that were comfortably saved by Stafford ‘keeper Henry Smith, a neat one-two between Arber and Nathan Scott down the right led to a dangerous low cross that was well defended. Smith was then on hand to make an excellent one-on-one save in the 16th minute before more good work down the right a minute later by Scott and Josh Wilson resulted in another low cross that Pinder poked wide under pressure at the near post. Scott then had an effort from distance saved before Stafford deservedly took the lead in the 25th minute; a Ryan Taylor ball into the box eventually came to Wilson on the edge of the area, his clever faked shot allowing him to slip the ball through to Arber who blasted the ball into the net. IOM may not have been at their best in terms of possession but always looked a threat when delivering the ball into the box given the huge advantage in size that several of their squad possessed over their Stafford markers. The equaliser came with five minute to go in the half, a superb in-swinging cross from the left met with a powerful header that gave Smith no chance. Stafford responded with another break down the right, Scott again delivering a low cross that was just cleared. IOM took the lead with a minute left in the half, heading in at the backpost from a corner, thus giving Stafford an uphill task in the second half. HT 2-1 FC Isle of Man. IOM made a tactical substitution five minutes into the half, switching to a back three to better match Stafford up. The wind had also picked up and Stafford were struggling to clear their lines as IOM pressed higher than in the first half. IOM were beginning to get on top in the game, with Charlie Swingwood forced to make a last ditch tackle to intercept an IOM cross from the right in the 55th minute, before Wilson shot wide from distance a few minutes later. IOM got their third goal in the 65th minute, Stafford losing possession in midfield which led to a diagonal ball into the box and an overload at the backpost, resulting in another headed goal. Some excellent Stafford interplay on the edge of the IOM box almost led to a chance but the ball was somehow poked away at the last minute. Stafford faded badly in the final twenty minutes, unable to sustain the high level of intensity they had shown in the first period, whilst IOM maintained their energy levels and put Stafford under somewhat of a bombardment as they struggled to get out of their own half. Arber had the only chance for Stafford in this period of the match, an acrobatic volley that was just over the bar. Smith pulled off the save of the game with five minutes to go, spreading himself to block at close range following an IOM break and cut-back. IOM displayed their ruthlessness to score two goals in the final five minutes, battering their way through the middle of a tiring Stafford defence to fire home on both occasions and produce a final scoreline that seemed improbable for much of the first half. FT 5-1 FC Isle of Man. Stafford will be hoping to up their game for the midweek First Division Cup match away at local rivals Brocton on Tuesday 22nd February before travelling to East Manchester to face playoff contenders Abbey Hey on Saturday 26th February.

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