Still unbeaten at home, the Stan welcomed Northern League newcomers Blyth Town to a packed Grounsell Park. There were 4 changes from Saturday’s narrow defeat at Tow Law with Hornsby, Esdaille, Proctor and Sharpe replacing Waters, Dobson, Blackbourne and Carr.
There was a positive start for the Stan and although in the first ten minutes both teams were trying to get the ball, the Stan had most of the possession. In 3 minutes, a ball from the 1st Stan corner was cleared before Bailey could get his shot in. Blyth then advanced but it came to nothing. 2 minutes later and Stephenson forced a shot under pressure which Corkhill in the Blyth goal easily caught. After 10 minutes another Stephenson shot went just wide of the right post. Blyth were mainly on the back foot but the Stan lacked that final ball which would get them a goal. In 16 minutes, Stephenson put the ball across the front of the visitor’s goal but there was no one there to slot it away. In 19 minutes, a free kick into the Blyth box was easily caught by Corkhill. Sharpe advanced in 23 minutes & passed to Stephenson whose shot was blocked but he ball went back to Hornsby whose speculative shot went over. Blyth finally had a shot after 25 minutes but it was the Stan who were having all the chances but with Blyth blocking numerous attacks. In 29 minutes Proctor pinched the ball and was eventually fouled 30 yards out. Stephenson’s free kick went over the bar. The ball had not left the Blyth half for a while and in 36 minutes a Sharp shot was blocked then a Hornsby effort was deflected for a corner from which Corkhill had to punch clear. Blyth countered but this was easily dealt with by the Stan. In 40 minutes, the Stan goal finally came when Burn won the ball and, via Mcbryde, it was passed to Proctor who suppled the advancing Sharpe who, from the edge of the box, confidently blasted the ball into the net past Corkhill. The one sided but only one goal half ended with more Stan pressure including in 44 minutes a Burn free kick into the box which was headed wide by Esdaille.
The 2nd half started in a similar fashion and in 47 minutes Sharp was brought down just outside the box but from the resulting free kick Bailey could not connect with the ball. 3 minutes later and a Hornsby cross into the box was cleared. Stephenson then shot high and wide. For the next 10 minutes the Stan continued to attack but be blocked. There was only one Blyth attack during this time but it was easily blocked. In 59 minutes McAndrew replaced Proctor and this was followed by more Stan pressure but without them really threatening. In 67 minutes, Campbell replaced Sharpe which came just after a rare Blyth attack. Blyth did finally have a reasonable effort in 70 minutes when a player advanced down the right and sent a ball in over the bar from a tight angle. This saw an increase in Blyth advances as they knew that the Stan only had a 1 goal lead. In 73 minutes Blyth shot over from long range. In 77 minutes they sent a long high ball into the Stan box but Regan got up to block. Campbell was trying unsuccessfully to get through the defence. In 78 minutes, Hornsby, who along with Stoddart had a good match, headed wide from a free kick. Blyth were still trying to attack and eventually shot over in 79 minutes. The Stan Army’s nerves were settled in 81 minutes when McAndrew advanced down the right and sent a great cross into the box for McBryde to head into the net. 2 minutes later and a diagonal cross to Campbell saw him advance into the box sending a good shot towards the net but Corkhill managed to put it over the bar. He then managed to get down for the ball from the corner to stop McBryde shooting. Both teams were trying to attack including Bailey sending a ball wide and Blyth shooting well over from distance. In 87 minutes Imray replaced Burn. From a corner, the ball was headed off the line from a Bailey header. Soon after Campbell passed to McBryde who put the ball across the open goal but McAndrew missed it. A Campbell effort was then blocked on the line with Corkhill saving his 2nd shot. There was 5 minutes of added time with both teams trying to attack but it remained 2-0 for the Stan.
This was a well deserved and comfortable win for the Stan although the goals took a long time to come. The Stan now host Willington on Saturday.