It was a bad start to the Bank Holiday Weekend for Stafford Town as they went down 4-1 to Maine Road. Despite taking the lead late in the first half it was a poor performance all round for Stafford, in particular a lack of composure and bravery whilst in possession. Both sides started the game quite conservatively, seemingly assessing the threat posed by their opposition. In the 12th minute a one-two down the right between Charlie Swingwood and Nathan Scott led to a dangerous cross that was well cleared. The best early chance for Maine Road also came from a cross from the right, the ball just failing to reach the incoming forward. Just over thirty minutes into the half some rare neat interplay again down the right by Scott and Josh Wilson led to a Stafford corner; the delivery headed down in the box dangerously close to the goal line before the ball was scrambled clear as Stafford appealed in vain for a speculative handball. Maine Road should have taken the lead in the 38th minute, Stafford conceding possession on the edge of their own penalty area leading to a low shot that Joe Morris did well to stop with his feet. Stafford took the lead a minute later, some high pressing by Wilson led to a poor backpass to the Maine Road ‘keeper, Josh Oultram blocking his clearance and the ball spooning up in the air before dropping to Oultram who controlled the ball before drilling a low shot under the goalkeeper for a debut goal. The joy was short-lived however as Maine Road equalised from kickoff, a simple pass down the middle of the pitch caught the Stafford defence far too open, allowing a shot across the goal into the bottom corner. It was to get even worse just three minutes later; Maine Road breaking down the right and cutting the ball back to the edge of the penalty area, Stafford failing to track midfield runners, one of which calmly slotted home. It should have been three in injury time; a cross to the backpost following a corner saw a free header cushioned back to Morris instead of the back of the net. HT 2-1 Maine Road. Stafford continued to look uncomfortable in possession in the second half, ignoring the simple pass in fear of conceding possession, preferring to aimlessly play the ball long and unsurprisingly having no success. In contrast Maine Road appeared to go up a gear, adding a third goal in the 57th minute; an excellent strike from outside the box from a partially cleared corner flying past Morris into the net, although Stafford did question whether another player in front of him was in an offside position. The one consistent bright spark for Stafford was Wilson, who had an excellent freekick tipped onto the bar and over for a corner before seeing another quality delivery headed wide by an unmarked Matt Dudley. Stafford’s miserable day was complete with five minutes to go, Maine Road getting their fourth of the game with a free backpost header from a corner. FT 4-1 Maine Road. Stafford have a chance to bounce back quickly as they play their second game in three days, making the short trip to take on local Staffordshire rivals Eccleshall on Monday 30th August before welcoming Barnton to Evans Park on Saturday 4th September.
No match footage for this one as camera was being used at the u21’s game.