Following a fluent attacking display last weekend, Stafford Town showed they can also win ugly as they overcame a determined Stockport Town 1-0 at Evans Park to make it three home league wins on the bounce. In a match of little attacking guile that looked likely to only be decided by a single goal from the onset, a Harry Bowers penalty early in the second half proved to be the difference between the sides. Stafford had an early penalty appeal turned down when Ryan Taylor appeared to be upended in the box as he attempted to follow-up a shot by Kyle Ashman that was saved by the ‘keeper and spiralled into the air. Stockport were showing an impressive defensive shape and looking to get the ball into dangerous areas early and support with runners from midfield; in particular Harry Bowers was doing well to deal with a number of diagonal balls in his direction as Stockport attempted to overload down the right, with a couple of crosses and snapshots dealt with by ‘keeper Sam Amedu. The match was becoming a bit of a battle; Charlie Swingwood and early substitute Ben Wood contesting everything in midfield and Josh Oultram working hard upfront as usual but being well contained by the Stockport centre-backs. Stafford were having some joy down the wings however, Ashman and Nathan Scott both creating half chances for Tom Duffy, one a shot that was blocked and the other a glancing header that was just wide. A rare Stockport attack through the middle in the 35th minute saw the ball played behind the Stafford backline, Amedu off his line superbly to narrow the angle and block with his feet. Five minutes later a clever pass into the box by Scott allowed Duffy to roll his man and shoot but the effort was just wide. HT 0-0. The second half began in much the same pattern as the first with both defences on top until the 54th minute, a decisive interception by Bowers on the edge of the box was followed by a driving run towards the halfway line, slipping the ball through to Taylor who subsequently drove into the box and was impeded, the referee pointing to the spot. Stafford were perhaps fortunate however, as Taylor looked offside despite his best efforts to bend his run. Finishing what he began, Bowers stepped up to calmly slot the ball into the bottom corner, sending the ‘keeper the wrong way in the process. Stockport responded with a period of pressure but Bowers, Matt Dudley and Henry Smith were as obdurate as ever, holding an excellent defensive line and contesting every ball as though their lives depended on it. Oultram was also becoming a bigger threat as Stockport committed more men forward and Stafford looked to counter, seeing a low curling shot from the edge of the box in the 67th minute go just wide following a neat one-two. Stockport should have equalised in the 76th minute, the usually assured Amedu having a brain freeze and passing the ball straight to a Stockport forward on the edge of the box; fortunately his decision to opt for power saw his thunderous strike crash of the bar and away from danger. Two minutes later a strange decision by the referee to over-rule his assistant and award Stafford a corner led to a Stockport player being sent to the sin bin for his protestations. Stafford looked to make the extra man count and saw Oultram denied on a couple of occasions, Scott also having an effort tipped over the bar in the 83rd minute. Stafford had to withstand a final period of direct play by Stockport, missing the opportunity to finish the game on the counter before the referee brought an end to proceedings. FT 1-0 Stafford Town. The tough run of fixtures continues for Stafford with a trip to second-placed New Mills on Saturday 23rd October before the visit of third-placed Abbey Hey to Evans Park on Saturday 30th October.
Best of the action van be found here; https://youtu.be/IIAcCgoEbuo