What a difference two days make! From Thursdays defeat, to this magnificent win, due to a great team performance, on and off the field, and of course a timely second half goal to clinch the Cup.
Benfield nearly caused an upset on 2 minutes when Dennis Knight tried a long shot from some distance, like the Czech Republic goal at Hampden, but Knight’s shot was not on target.
Four minutes later Leighton Hopper, on the right, robbed Mark Turnbull and drove forwards toward the byline, and pulled the ball back to the near post for Jay Hornsby, whose low right foot shot just went wide.
On 10 minutes Benfield won a corner on the left, and a lovely cross for Mark Turnbull to run onto but he headed over.
The first water break, as it was so hot, and the Stann backroom staff, not only provided water, but also much needed encouragement and direction.
Benfield were awarded a free kick on 28 minutes, on the left near the touchline. It caught the Stann defence out, as the free kick was not immediately crossed, but played down the flank, and then a good cross again for Mark Turnbull to flick the ball goalwards, but Dan Regan denied him.
Back came Stann, on 32 minutes, with good interplay on the left, between Kevin Carr, Hopper and Hornsby, with Hornsby putting in a low ball across the 6 yard line which Carr was just inches away from connecting.
Knight was hustled by Michael Hall, with his shot going well over the bar. Ryan Bailey won the ball in midfield, pushed down the inside channel, but the home side were happy to concede a corner as Carr sought to get the ball.
On 42 minutes Kyle Dobson denied Aidan Haley, also conceding a corner, which was headed straight to Regan
Just prior to half time Stann had a great opportunity to open the scoring, when Hopper got the ball in midfield, and ran forwards and to the right of goal, and rather than playing in one of his two teammates, tried an ambitious and speculative shot which went over the bar.
A good enjoyable game and Stann, having lost this pre season match last year 0-4, had showed much improvement from that poor display. Maybe, it shocked Benfield as well.
Benfield making 3 immediate substitutions, two of which were their star men, striker Paul Brayson and keeper Andrew Grainger.
A couple off offsides for both sides, but it was Benfield who continued to be given offside, especially for Brayson.
Then on 58 minutes Stann won a corner on the right. Carr, rather than putting the ball into the middle, seemed to overhit it, but the result was Kyle Dobson in the middle missing his shot and in the scramble Hopper poked the ball home from close range. (Plan B for a corner worked well, Kevin)
On the hour Stann brought on Kye Waters for James Proctor. It could so easily have been one or two others, as all Stann players had worked hard in the heat, but with only four substitutes on the bench, and two of them the youngsters, the manager was astute and timely when he did make substitutions.
Hornsby took a corner on the right, a superb ball into the middle which Benfield managed to clear under pressure. Ritchie Slaughter shot across and wide of Regan’s post when he was well placed. Another water break, and much needed by al the players, and again Stann making good use of the stoppage.
On 72 minutes Carr needed treatment for cramp in his leg. Three minutes later he was replaced by a trialist.
Ali Stoddart lead out a breakaway by Stann, with Grainger making a good save to deny Hopper. A Stann back pass almost let in Brayson, but the ever alert Regan collected the ball.
On 80 minutes 18 year old James Harper came on for Stoddart, and three minutes later 19 year old Harry Poole came on for Dean Imray. Poole was instantly involved when he got back to clear a ball which came in along the six yard line. With a couple of minutes remaining Proctor came back on for Hopper.
Stann deserved their win, which will cause manager, players and fans to appreciate the change that is taking place. Great to see Poole and Harper given more playing time, and they are to be applauded for the huge step up they are making. Remember last season they were playing at Step 10 with the A team, now they are part of a step 6 team. Well done to the hard work of all, both on the pitch and in the dugout. The outstanding thing for me, was sitting in the stand next to away dugout, I saw and heard the constant input from the coaches, giving advice throughout, reminders of what was to be done, and encouragement to all individual players.
Heaton Stannington: Regan, Stoddart (Harper), Hall, Bailey, Dobson, Blackbourne, Proctor (Waters), Imray, (Poole), Carr (Trialist), Hopper, Hornsby.