Home cup match played on 20 September 2022.
Kicked off at 7:45 PM

Stafford Town put their poor start to the league campaign to one side by springing an upset at Evans Park to knock out Walsall Wood in the First Round of the Staffordshire Senior Cup. The visitors went into the game leading the Midland League Premier Division with six wins and a draw after seven games, making them clear favourites given Stafford’s recent struggles. However, a gritty defensive display and some clinical finishing, especially in the first half, saw Stafford run out 4-0 winners to book a place in the next round. Stafford looked determined and organised from the start, early forward balls from Wood were either headed away by centre backs Charlie Swingwood and Matt Dudley or they were over-hit and ran harmlessly through to the returning Joe Williams in the Stafford goal. Stafford then took the lead in the tenth minute; Declan Arber nudging his defender to win a high ball before helping the ball through for Ryan Taylor, whose first-time effort from the edge of the box nestled in the bottom corner. Two minutes later, Taylor Draper drove at the Wood defence, his attempted pass breaking for Josh Wilson Snr to drill home from the edge of the box. Stafford now had something to defend and it lifted their level further, passing the ball far more comfortably than in many recent matches. In contrast, Wood were rattled and began to look for long diagonal balls, in particular from left to right. Fortunately for Stafford, left back Jake Cartwright continued the fine start to his Stafford career, never letting the ball drop in behind him. In addition, midfielders Callum White and youngster Dan Kelly were winning the majority of second balls, screening the defence and tracking midfield runners. Williams was forced into a save with his feet in the 20th minute as Wood had their first real chance before an offside flag brought the passage of play to an end. Wood then had a couple of dangerous balls into the box that perhaps should have been headed home at the back post but no touch was forthcoming on both occasions. Stafford extended the lead with a little over ten minutes left in the half; a free kick down the left to Taylor led to a low cross that was not properly cleared, the ball reaching Arber for a first time finish across goal that hit the foot of the post on the way into the net. Wood almost pulled a goal back in the 38th minute, a shot from the edge of the box hitting the outside of the post and ricocheting to safety. The final chance of the half came from Arber, rolling his man superbly on the edge of the box but his shot was saved. HT 3-0 Stafford Town. Stafford were forced to defend deeper and withstand a greater amount of pressure in the second half, Wood passing the ball shorter and keeping it on the ground far more as they attempted to pull Stafford out of position. For the most part Stafford were holding firm, save for a clever lofted ball behind the defence in the 48th minute that was poked wide. Wood fired over in the 53rd minute when Stafford failed to fully clear a cross from the left, Swingwood then intercepting a low cross almost five minutes later. As Wood pressed forward it was obvious that Stafford would become more of a threat on the counter, Arber holding the ball up before releasing the dangerous Nathan Scott on the right, an eventual cross to Taylor at the back post resulting in a shot that was blocked. A similar break involving Arber and Scott was then denied by some excellent Wood defending in the 65th minute. In the 73rd minute a free kick by Scott into the box was won by Swingwood but the ball dropped agonisingly short of Arber and was cleared. Two minutes later Arber again released Scott down the right, his drive and shot at goal was saved, the ball falling to young substitute Remay Porter to follow-up on the volley but the ‘keeper got back up sharply to claim the effort. Wood managed to get into the Stafford box shortly after, but the final shot was weak and easily saved by Williams. As the game entered the final five minutes a Stafford ball into the Wood box was controlled by substitute Will Bates, his first effort was partially blocked by a defender but although he was able to follow-up with a second shot, he was off-balance and the ‘keeper was able to save. Stafford put some gloss on the scoreline in the final minute of normal time as some excellent link-up play on the break by Porter and Bates ended with Bates unselfishly teeing-up Porter to finish with a curling effort from the edge of the area for his second goal in as many games, highlighting the quality he possesses, even at such a young age. Wood had one final effort that was high over the goal following a low cross from the right before Stafford were left to celebrate a victory that appeared unlikely prior to kick-off. FT 4-0 Stafford Town. Stafford are back in cup action again, this time in the FA Vase 2nd Qualifying Round, travelling to Leicestershire to take on former Midland League opponents Hinckley AFC in an unusual Friday fixture on the 23rd September. Hinckley are always tough opponents and Stafford will have to show the same level of quality and determination as the victory over Wood if they are to progress.

All the goals are here at Stafford Town TV:


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