Match Report by media student - Sam Pringle
Stafford Town welcomed high flying Ashby Ivanhoe to Evans Park for this Midland Football League Division 1 clash. The visitors had won 7 out of their first 11 games this season scoring the joint most amount of goals while Stafford came into this one with 3 wins from 13 and the joint worst defensive record In the league so it was always set up for goals. Towns cause was not helped when not for the first time they lost their goalkeeper in the warm up. Joe Morris looked in great distress after dislocating his thumb in the warm up. With no.2 GK Tom Horsley out injured himself it was left for striker Tom Horsley to don the gloves against the free scoring visitors. First clear opening was created by Town after Nathan Scott skipped past his man, which became a reoccurrence throughout the game, and looked to deliver a driven ball to the feet of Anwar Olugbon but the cross wasn’t great and it was easily dealt with by the Ashby Ivanhoe defence. Just as the game was approaching the 10 minute mark Jordan Wilson capitalised on a poor clearance from the Stafford defence acting quickest to a loose ball. As Wilson side stepped around Tom Duffy, the stand in Stafford goalkeeper he was abruptly brought down and the referee rightly blows for the penalty but Samuel Grouse does what any decent player should do and carries on by stroking the ball into the net. Despite blowing for the penalty the referee now awards the goal. The following ten minutes were very scrappy with Stafford trying to get a foothold in the game and they were creating half chances that Ashby’s defence were dealing with fairly comfortably. Following great hold up play from young Ollie Jarvis who then threaded his pass wide, Nathan Scott once again used his quick feet to skip past his man and a cross come shot flies into the top corner to the surprise of everyone including Scott who may try to claim he was aiming for the corner after all to equal the game and give Ashby Ivanhoe something to think about after looking fairly comfortable with 25 minutes on the clock. After the goal the game opened up and Nathan Scott especially started to get on the ball more and find space again and again and was running the show for Stafford, he continued to bully his man and continued to get past him but never had any great support and most movements that were created for both sides were nothing more than half chances. Minutes before halftime Ashby broke from a Stafford corner and it ends up in a 2v3 situation but Wayne Bailey clips the heels of Jordon Wilson and goes into the referees book and that resulted in a free kick from 35 yards out and it is clipped in towards the back post but Duffy is equal to it and catches the oncoming cross with ease. This took us to half time where I think Steve and Dom would be the happier of the managers having restored parity having gone behind. Just 2 minutes after Anwar Olugbon got the second half underway Scott gets fed the ball once again and just like he did in the first half he takes on two members of the Ashby defence and slides a calm and cool finish under the keeper to put Stafford back into the lead to the delight of the Evans Park faithful. Moments later the man of the moment Nathan Scott had the ball at his feet again and let fly with a wicked shot but the Ashby keeper is equal to it as he palmed it out and then easily collected under no pressure from the Stafford strike force. After the goal Stafford started to sit back and invite pressure on to themselves and looked to break every so often but Ashby were really starting to control the game and take it by the scruff of the neck and they capitalised on this after they created some exquisite build up play down the left hand side which saw a driven cross be sent across the face of goal which was poked home my Ashbys number 9 Jordon Wilson to tie the game up with 30 minutes left on the clock. Straight after the goal Stafford came out of their shell again and started playing some really good football with some quick 1-2’s and looking to exploit the wings once again with Nathan Scott and it payed off as a loose ball in the middle of the park is met by Matt Dean who just gets there before Ashby’s captain Macauley Holmes who clatters into him with his studs showing and was very quickly given his marching orders by the match official. Stafford straight away looked to take advantage of the extra man as Scott once again takes on multiple Ashby players but his shot lets him down as he drags it wide of the keepers left post. Not long after Scott’s chance the ball was bouncing around the edge of the Stafford box and captain Charlie Swingwood connects with a high boot to one of the Ashby attackers and is handed a second yellow for dangerous play to now make this game 10v10 with 15 minutes left. Unfortunately for the reds Ashby take advantage by breaking away with a sublime ball from Jack Sample down the line to Samuel Grouse who drives with it towards goal and he dinks Tom Duffy from the edge of the area to make it 2-3 in the 87th minute. From the restart Stafford go more direct and they win a corner with less than a minute to go, their final chance and the striker turned goalkeeper Tom Duffy makes his way into the box as the corner is clipped in but nobody from Town can connect with it as the game ends Stafford Town 2 Ashby Ivanhoe 3 as the team from Ashby-de-la-zouch steal all 3 points on the road and make it 5 wins from 5 for the East Midlands outfit who were pushed all the way from a resilient Stafford Town side.