On a miserable winter’s afternoon, a good crowd of 295, the highest of the afternoon in both divisions of the Northern league, braved the elements to see the Stan record a comfortable win. There was one change from the last league match with McAndrew replacing Stoddart. It is the time of year when people look out their stockings & the Stan looked out 28 of them for the visitor’s, after they forgot theirs, & avoided a delay to the kick off.
The Stan started on the attack & in 4 minutes, from a 2nd, corner Lamb in the Esh goal had to catch on the goal line under pressure from close range. Soon after he also had to catch a long range effort. Esh were trying to attack but their efforts were coming to nothing & the Stan looked more likely to score especially through the 1st half hard work of Hopper. The Stan came especially close in 13 minutes when Hornsby & Hopper supplied Luke whose shot was blocked. The Stan kept the pressure on & soon after Lamb had to catch another home effort. Although quieter for a few minutes, it was still mainly Stan & the pressure paid off in 20 minutes when McAndrew’s corner ball was hit by Groves though not cleanly & Holmes was there in the box to put the follow up shot into the net. There was nearly a 2nd 4 minutes later when Lamb somehow caught McBryde’s good effort. Soon after, McBryde headed just wide from a Hopper cross but the Stan defence was then were called into action after Regan ran out & missed the ball. In 33 minutes, a Stephenson long range shot was deflected off the post & into the hands of Lamb. Esh had their 1st proper effort 3 minutes later when they shot over the bar from a tight angle. Over the next few minutes Esh looked more dangerous as they sought an equaliser although Holmes did beat the defence & hit the side netting after being supplied by McBryde. The Stan could though breath easier in 42 minutes when Stephenson supplied McBryde who made a great pass to the advancing Holmes who beat the defence & gave the keeper no chance making it 2-0. Just before half time Stephenson made a great run & passed to McBryde whose great effort somehow hit off the keeper for a corner.
The weather was just as wet, cold & dark in the 2nd half but both teams started positively especially the visitors. It was the Stan though who increased their lead in 49 minutes when McBryde held up the ball for the advancing Holmes who blasted it into the net for his hat trick & the Stan’s 75th league goal of the season. The Stan strengthened their attack in 54 minutes when Campbell replaced Hornsby. Both teams were still trying to attack & Esh were not giving up. There was though a quieter period until the 74th minute when Campbell supplied Holmes with his good shot being deflected just wide for a corner. 3 minutes later & a great ball to Campbell running into the visitor’s box saw him stopped by a good tackle by an Esh defender. Regan then had to make a diving save at the other end before it was normal service again & Burn shot just wide from distance after being supplied by Bailey. In 87 minutes, Proctor wound into the Esh box passing to Burn whose shot was some how saved by Lamb. Esh had a final attack which saw Hall having to clear before the match ended with McBryde shooting high & over.
This well deserved if not sensational win sees the Stan stretch their lead at the top of the league to 11 points and provides the Stan Army with a great Xmas present. Hopefully they will add to the fans’ Xmas cheer when their programme for the year ends over the next 11 days with trips to Chester le Street in the league and North Shields in the Senior Cup and I am sure even Santa will be looking out for the Stan scores.
Credit: Joe Street