|24 October 2023
The Stan remain on the road to Wembley after a comfortable win over Darwen of the North West Counties League Premier Division in the 1st round proper of the Vase. The Stan have now played & beaten 2 ex-league teams in the Vase having won 2-1 at Nelson in 2016 & are in the 2nd round for the 1st time since the 1981-82 season. There were 7 changes from last Tuesday’s Senior Cup match at Benfield with only Hornsby, Stephenson, Shepherd & Anderson starting both games. Tom Flynn replaced injured Lewis Brass in goals.
The match was played in surprisingly dry conditions & started with both teams trying to attack. Darwen had the 1st attack although it was the Stan who, from a Stephenson free kick, had the ball in the net in the 2nd minute courtesy of Hopper but Anderson was flagged for off-side. The Stan attacked again twice then Flynn had to get up to catch a high ball in 5 minutes. 2 minutes later & Darwen shot wide.
The lively start continued as both teams tried to attack when they could. In 14 minutes, a long-range Slaughter effort beat the Darwen keeper & hit the left post. Darwen had an attack cleared in 17 minutes, but it was the Stan who took the lead a minute later. A home attack saw Lamb calmly blast the ball with his left foot through a number of defenders to make it 1-0 to the Stan. A minute later & Hopper broke through but was blocked as he entered the 6-yard box. Soon after another Stan attack was headed away in front of goal.
The match was being played at a high tempo & in 23 minutes it was the Stan who scored again. Hopper ran through &, with defenders on either side of him, he kept his calm, entered the box & slotted the ball past the Darwen keeper. Darwen hadn’t given up though & in 28 minutes a free kick into the box was cleared for a corner. From the corner, the Stan headed clear from in front of the goal before a Darwen player headed over the bar.
Both teams kept attacking when they could & in 36 minutes a Stephenson free kick went just over the bar. In 39 minutes, a clash involving Slaughter eventually saw the referee consulting the linesman before sending him off. Darwen tried to take advantage of their extra man & in 43 minutes Reid had to head out for a corner. From the corner, Flynn expertly pushed the ball clear. Into added time & Darwen attacked again but the half ended with the Stan leading 2-0.
The 2nd half started like the 1st with both teams trying to attack although the Stan defence had to work harder due to the sending off, but they were soaking up the pressure. In 53 minutes, Shepherd headed clear before a Darwen player shot well over. In 57 minutes, there was a long ball to Lamb, but he was brought down as he was about to advance into the visitor’s box. As a result, the referee sent off a Darwen player & the numbers on each team were even again. The Stan shot well over from the resulting free kick.
In 66 minutes, another bad tackle on Lamb just outside the visitor’s box saw a Darwen player receiving a yellow. Stephenson sent the resulting free kick towards the goal, but the Darwen keeper punched the ball away. Both teams were trying to attack but cancelling each other out. In 73 minutes Lashley replaced Lamb. A minute later, a diagonal ball from Reid gave the advancing Lashley his 1st touch of the ball since coming on & with it he comfortably sent the ball into the net for 3-0. What a goal!
In 78 minutes, Darwen had 2 corners with the 2nd headed clear. From it, the ball went back into the box & a shot by a Darwen player went just wide. In 82 minutes, sub Sayer sent the ball into the box but no one was there to connect with it & it was eventually cleared. Soon after, Sayer crossed to Hopper who flicked on the ball to Reid, but his effort was saved by the Darwen keeper. From the resulting corner, Hopper headed over.
In 87 minutes, the Darwen keeper got to the ball just before Hopper. A Darwen attack was then blocked by Shepherd. Into 5 added minutes & a Burn header from a corner was blocked. The match ended with a Darwen long range effort going well over the bar.
The Stan deserved their cup win with all the team working hard although Flynn in the Stan goal was rarely tested. Although each side had a player sent off, it was not a dirty game & most fans appeared surprised at both decisions. The Stan now travel in the 2nd round to Emley, near Huddersfield, of the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.