Stafford Town made it three league wins in a row as they defeated Staffordshire rivals Rocester 3-1 at Hillsfield. Following a brace by debutant Ben Douglas and Nathan Scott’s first goal of the season, Stafford were then forced to defend for much of the second half after being reduced to ten men. The early stages of the game saw Rocester have a couple of half chances, in particular a cut-back from the right resulting in a shot over the bar. Stafford grew into the game and were looking threatening, especially on the counter through the pace of widemen Nathan Scott and Kyle Ashman, with Josh Wilson pulling the strings and Ryan Bradshaw leading the line. Stafford took the lead in the 18th minute when an excellent spell of possession led to a Wilson cross from the left that somehow evaded the head of Bradshaw but Ben Douglas was on hand to nod the ball home at the back post. Stafford were now in the ascendancy; Douglas, Ben Vangucci, Henry Smith and Matt Dudley were doing well to stifle the Rocester frontline as Stafford had several more chances. Perhaps the best of these saw a Stafford corner headed goalwards at the nearpost, a Rocester defender somehow managing to flick the ball over the bar. Following another couple of dangerous crosses by Wilson, a Rocester back-pass was intercepted resulting in a one-on-one chance for Ashman but ‘keeper Charlie Wood made a good save. Stafford got the second goal their pressure deserved in the 39th minute, Douglas heading in from a corner for his second of the game. It was then three a minute into injury time as a superb ball by skipper Charlie Swingwood released Scott behind the Rocester backline who drilled a shot across the goal into the bottom corner. HT 3-0 Stafford Town.
The first ten minutes of the second period continued in much the same vein as the first, Chris Anderson seamlessly replacing the injured Vangucci and Stafford looking likely to add to their tally. However, the match was turned on its head in the 56th minute when the ball was poked through to Bradshaw, whose challenge for the loose ball with the goalkeeper was deemed a straight red card by the referee. Stafford dug in; battling for every ball to protect their hard-earned lead as Rocester understandably began to have the majority of the ball. Fresh legs were introduced upfront in the form of Cydon Walker, who gave everything to his thankless task of lone frontman whilst his team-mates settled into two banks of four, restricting Rocester to very few clear chances for stopper Joe Morris to deal with. Swingwood and Ben Wood had to work incredibly hard in the middle of the pitch to cover the ground; Rocester pulling a goal back with just over ten minutes to go, a cut-back to the edge of the box resulting in a deflected shot that somehow looped over Morris into the corner. As temperatures rose on both sides Stafford remained obdurate to the end, having to endure seven minutes of injury time before celebrating another win. FT 3-1 Stafford Town. Stafford face a tough test against unbeaten West Didsbury and Chorlton on Saturday 21st August at Evans Park followed by the first of several trips to Manchester this season to take on Maine Road a week later on Saturday 28th August.
Highlights of a competitive encounter can be found as always at our YouTube channel 'Stafford Town TV' using this link;