Given the current unpredictability of the weather &covid restrictions its nice to have the certainty on a Wednesday night of a big crowd and another Stan win to keep this season’s unbeaten home record intact at fortress Grounsell. The Stan welcomed league newcomers Horden CW who have been promoted from the Wearside League & from their performance tonight they look like they are here to stay. There were 2 changes with Blackbourne & Stephenson replacing Hall & Carr.
Right from the start there was end to end action as both sides tried to attack and looked like they could be dangerous. In 4 minutes a crossed the ball into the Horden box saw their keeper parry itout to Stephenson whose shot was blocked on the line by a defender. The ball then bounced out to a Stan player who shot over. Horden then hit the post and although they were to have much of the ball and many attacks this was to prove their best effort of the night. In 10 minutes a Horden free kick into the box was deflected for a corner from which they eventually shot over from long range. It continued to be end to end although Hordenlooked slightly stronger & in 14 minutes a ball sent through a crowded Stan box was initially dropped then caught by Regan. In 22 minutes, both the visiting keeper then Regan had to catch. In 27 minutes, there was a great pass to Stephenson who passed to Hopper who was blocked. Hopper then tried a long range shot which forced a full stretch from the keeper to stop it. In 29 minutes, the Stan took the lead when a corner went out to Burn who shot from the edge of the box & its mid–air projectory gave the keeper no chance. What a goal. Both side s still tried to attack & Horden shot over in 35 minutes. It remained end to end & competitive until half time although Burn’s wonder goal allowed the Stan to just edge it.
The second half started like the 1st with action in both halves. As a result both sides were also having to defend well & Esdaille had to clear in 51 minutes. Hopper was working hard for the Stan & in 52 minutes he passed to Holmes who advanced up the wing but shot rather than passed. Soon after, Hopper crossed into the box but Campbell,sliding in, was unable to make contact with the ball as it went across the Horden goal & a great opportunity to seal the match was missed. Regan then had to block a Horden effort. Hornsby then countered but were marginally offside. In 57 minutes, Esdaille initially cleared a Horden attack but the ball came back into the box and Regan had to get up to catch. The match was now in a period of extended Horden pressure with the Stan to an extent sitting back & soaking it up. In 65 minutes a speculative shot by Horden went wide. There was then some Stan pressure followed by more Horden attacks including one in 74 minutes which was halted by a great catch by Regan in a crowded Stan box. Hopper then passed to Stodddart who passed back to him in the box but he was blocked. There was a quieter period as although end to end there was little final product except for Regan having to catch the ball in 77 & 86 minutes. The 5 minutes of added time saw the Horden keeper going up into the Stan box twice & from the 2nd time, Proctor tried a speculative long shot towards an empty net but the ball was intercepted by a defender. There were corners at either end but the match finished 1-0 to the Stan.
The Stan did well to engineer a win against a strong Horden side who had been unbeaten in the league. The visitor’s lacked a goal scorer & this was reflected in the fact that the Stan’s lead never seemed threatened & by the lack of saves Regan had to make. Even so he commanded his box & his defence & as a result he was contender for man of the match although Hopper’s energy strength & effort up front won him the award. The Stan are back in 2nd place in the league & travel to Durham for the 1st of 3 away games in a row.