Town had a credible go but were ultimately beaten by a better side over the 90 minutes which ended their vase campaign for this season. From the kick off Studley showed their intent to try and play in their opponents defensive third whenever possible spraying accurate, long distance cross field passes whenever afforded the opportunity. They forced the first of many corners inside the opening ten seconds. In the eighth minute good pressure from Town striker Josh Oultram resulted in an accidental handball by the Studley centre half and awarding of a free kick in a central position some 22 yards out. Josh Wilsons initial effort failed to clear the blue wall and his rebound never troubled the visiting stopper.
Just a minute later and the deadlock was broken. A hopeful ball into the middle of the Town half was hacked away by Harry Bowers only to ricochet off the chest of striker Josh Oultram. The loose ball was picked up by an advancing blue shirt and his cross from the edge of the box accurately met the head of left winger Alfie Bloomer who made no mistake from 6 yards out for 0-1.
The home side to their credit settled into the game rather than panicking and enjoyed several good spells of possession involving patience in their passing as they looked to build attacks. The elusive final through ball of sufficient quality was consistently lacking however and when it did come the ball didn't stick in advanced areas. In the 15th minute a lovely exchange of passes involving Kinsella, Heath and Wilson culminated in them getting in behind the visiting right back but Wilsons delivery was on this occasion a little wild and cleared everyone to go out for a goal kick. In the 25th minute a clipped ball into the channel from Chris Anderson was collected by Josh Outram, he initially rolled his marker who did well to recover putting pressure on the strikers effort from the edge of the box which was smothered by the visiting stopper. On the half hour mark a viciously whipped in corner kick was somehow headed over the bar by the inexplicably unmarked Studley centre half from 5 yards out. The half hour mark saw a decent outstretched save low to his right from Joe Morris to deny the buoyant Alfie Bloomer who turned and unleashed a shot from 18 yards out. HT 0-1
The hosts started the second half the livelier of the two teams and manufactured several attempts on goal through Josh Oultram and then Sean Kinsella. Whilst possession was being enjoyed by the hosts, the visitors were not particularly troubled, a couple of saves and clearances resulting in corners to the Reds but none could force that elusive equaliser.
Studley bagged their 2nd goal of the game in the 65th minute and to all intents and purposes ended the contest killing the momentum that Stafford had steadily built. To those supporting the sky blues it'll be viewed as an exceptional individual effort from their diminutive no.9 and it was indeed a cracking solo goal. From a defensive perspective however those of a red persuasion will feel the attacker was afforded far too much respect inside the penalty area and there were more than enough defenders in situ to have prevented the strike. Regardless, the finish was fierce and Morris was beaten from 8 yards out for 0-2.
Stafford were still showing plenty of guile and it was straight down the other end for a zipping Josh Oultram shot that was two yards wide of the far upright. Within a minute a long attacking throw was met by the glancing head of an advanced Studley defender and was excellently tipped over the bar by Morris to keep the deficit to two.
The 70 minute mark saw Towns best passage of play. The ball made its way from the hands of Joe Morris out short to Nathan Scott who advanced from the edge of his own box. Scott combined with Dom Heath and skipper Charlie Swingwood before the latter switched play out to the left finding Josh Wilson. Wilson played an exchange with Sean Kinsella as he advanced into the penalty area and set the pass back to the late arriving Ben Wood. Wood did his utmost to hit a controlled side footed effort rather than a wild lash but still cleared the crossbar with his attempt from 18 yards.
Lewis till from the clubs u21's side was now introduced for his senior debut and showed a very sold twenty minutes doing himself credit throughout, showing calmness in possession and finding his passes. Some important headers and interceptions will also have done wonders for the youngsters confidence. Shortly after saw the introduction of 17 yr old Morgan Payne who again put himself about credibly gaining more match time in mens football.
With 10 mins remaining Joe Morris pulled off a superb double save to keep the game alive of sorts. A free kick from the halfway line was delivered on a flat trajectory and the Studley no.9 showed great feet to slip in his right wing team mate. The shot on the turn from eight yards was parried into the air and Morris was quick enough to his feet to scurry across the 6 yard box and stifle the headed second effort.
The game ended 0-2 to Studley and whilst the Town players were clearly dejected at defeat they should take many positives from the game overall. Studley are a very good side, full of quality and experience and it'll be a real surprise if they are not plying their trade at step 5 next season with promotion highly likely. The squad they have assembled is certainly capable based on this showing.
Next up is the big one as we host local rivals Brocton in the first 'El Staffico' of the season 7.45pm kick off Tuesday 28th September.
The best bits of the Studley defeat can be found here at our YouTube Channel 'Stafford Town TV': https://youtu.be/K22CnE3GTUI