Stafford Town’s penultimate home league match against promotion chasers New Mills ended in a 3-1 defeat, although the final result was heavily influenced by one huge decision by the referee in the second half. Stafford had fallen behind early but gradually grew into the match to equalise and were in the ascendancy before New Mills were afforded a bizarre penalty that gave them the lifeline they needed to obtain the win. The Town contingent were left with a feeling of de ja vu and memories of the most blatant penalty that was not given our way in the reverse fixture but apparently these things even themselves out. It was a disastrous start for Stafford as New Mills took the lead within thirty seconds, an in-swinging cross from the right glanced home at close range, leaving Stafford ‘keeper Sam Amedu no chance. Buoyed by the goal New Mills dominated the next 20-25 minutes as Stafford struggled to maintain possession and get to grips with the New Mills forwards. During this period New Mills probably should have added to their lead, shooting wide in the seventh minute after an incisive break before a free kick into the box dropped promisingly for a shot that was easily saved by Amedu. The best chance for New Mills to extend their advantage came in the 18th minute, another break ending with a low cut back that should have been converted at the back post but the finish was high over the bar. Stafford finally began to get into the game and give New Mills something to think about defensively, a good spell of possession involving several Stafford players resulting in a shot by Arek Pociask that was deflected wide for a corner. An injury to New Mills skipper Benito Lowe was also a factor in Stafford starting to win the midfield battle and in particular ‘Kaz’ Danilian began to find increasing amounts of space as the half progressed, his link up play causing New Mills problems on several occasions. Pociask flicked a Ryan Taylor cross wide with five minutes to go in the half and although Stafford went into the break a goal behind, New Mills’ early momentum had abated. HT 1-0 New Mills. Stafford continued where they had left off early in the second half; a cross by Taylor to the backpost found Morgan Payne, whose neat control and shot seemed destined for the goal but was deflected for a corner. The equaliser arrived in the 56th minute, Taylor again crossing from the right and although the delivery was slightly overhit, the industrious Ravel Wallace was able to control the ball and feed it to Mat Pinder who received a yard or two into the penalty area. Pinder set back for Payne to set himself for a superb strike into the top corner. New Mills then had another shot over the bar in the 62nd minute but Stafford were certainly looking the more likely to score next as New Mills appeared to be labouring and struggling to remain compact defensively, Stafford beginning to find increasing amounts of space in attacking areas and push them back. Then came the decisive moment of the game, New Mills working the ball into the box in the 67th minute but the ball was over-ran and Amedu came off his line to smother the ball with both hands. All present were therefore left astounded as the referee pointed to the spot for a penalty, leaving even the New Mills contingent embarrassed at the decision. To make matters worse, the normally gentile Amedu was so distraught at the decision that he was sent to the sin bin for ten minutes when he was deemed to have overstepped the mark protesting his innocence, which led to Ben Wood donning the gloves in the interim. After the penalty was dispatched, Wood was forced to save a New Mills shot five minutes later, doing well to also hold onto the ball and avert further danger. Amedu returned to the fray after his penitence, leaving Stafford ten minutes to salvage a result, however much of their momentum had already been lost. Wood headed over from a corner in the 82nd minute before New Mills put the game to bed in the 88th minute, working the ball into the box on the left, a shot poked towards goal taking a cruel deflection past Amedu at the near post. Danilian had one final shot across goal for Stafford, who were left to rue the one moment that changed the outcome of the match. FT 3-1 New Mills. Stafford’s attention now shifts to a local derby against Staffordshire rivals Eccleshall in the Second Round of the First Division Challenge Cup (Edward Case Cup) at Evans Park on Tuesday 8th March before they return to league action away at Ellesmere Rangers on Saturday 12th March.
The best of the action as usual is here at Stafford Town TV: https://youtu.be/kAVZzkCcFto