The visitors from Chester-le-Street, which is also famous for its test match cricket ground, were eventually bowled out tonight as the Stan remained top of the league table. Like Boris’s cabinet shuffle earlier in the day, which had nothing to do with our previous manager despite the resemblance, there were a number of changes from Saturday’s Vase victory with Hall, Proctor, Carr, Hopper and Holmes replacing Hornsby, Blackbourne, Waters, McBryde and Campbell. On the bench, there was a return to the squad for Lewis Burns who is back from another of his world travels.
Both teams started positively although much of the 1st 10 minutes was played in the middle of the park. Stephenson had the 1st clear effort in 4 minutes when he shot over the bar under pressure. The visitors had an attack easily cleared in 7 minutes but after that most of the opportunities fell to the Stan but although they were getting into the Chester box there was no end product as the visitor’s defence was working well. 2 of the better early opportunities came in 16 minutes from a corner when the Stan headed over under pressure & in 18 minutes when Esdaille headed over from a free kick. Chester eventually had another shot in 19 minutes when Regan got down to save a long range effort. Stephenson then made a run eventually shooting just wide. The Stan pressure continued although without any clear threat including through a number of corners being cleared. Regan did have to save in 28 minutes before there was a joined up Stan attack which eventually saw the ball going out. Chester then had an effort easily saved & another went wide before more Stan pressure including 2 corners. The Stan’s best effort of the 1st half came in 35 minutes when Stephenson’s shot was well saved by Wilson in the Chester goal. The visitors then had a couple of minutes of pressure including a good opportunity to score as a player dealt well with the pressure from the Stan defence in the box but shot just wide. The last 8 minutes of the half though saw more Stan pressure including a long range effort going over the bar.
Chester started the 2nd half on the attack & almost immediately Regan had to come out to clear. The Stan then had a couple of attacks including Hopper shooting over after 49 minutes. It was the visitors though who took the lead in 51 minutes when a cross into the box was initially blocked before a follow up shot was deflected past Regan. The Stan didn’t give up & 2 minutes later Proctor shot just over although Regan then had to stop 2 Chester attacks. Both teams were being positive but it was the Stan who got a long awaited goal in 59 minutes when Holmes’s shot from 6 yards was blocked but the ball eventually came back into the box & Stephenson shot through a crowded box to get the equaliser. The Stan kept the pressure on & 2 minutes later they were in the lead when a great Stephenson long range effort was deflected past the keeper. In 65 minutes it was 3-1 when Proctor received the ball on the right & advanced into the Chester box & from a tight angle shot into the far corner of the net. In 73 minutes, Burns replaced Holmes & former Stan A players Poole & Harper also eventually joined the action replacing Stephenson & Hopper. The Stan kept the pressure on & had most of the efforts during the last 15 minutes of the match. Wilson had to catch under pressure from Proctor, & Chester did have 2 rare attacks in the 84th minute which were eventually cleared before Burns shot well wide from distance. In 86 minutes, a great Stan ball into the box was deflected for a corner. In the 90th minute, a joined up Stan attack in the Chester box saw Poole head across the goal to Burns whose effort was blocked when he should have scored but Proctor blasted the rebound shot into the net. The visitors did have a late opportunity for a consolation goal in 93 minutes when the ball went across the Stan goal line but was missed by the nearest Chester player.
The large crowd witnessed a comfortable performance from the Stan although there were plenty of missed opportunities to take the lead in the 1st half. Although the visitors took advantage of this early in the 2nd half & went in front, the Stan stood strong & came back to comfortably win 4-1. On Saturday the Stan play host to new Northern League team Redcar Town.