Durham City played at a much improved level and contributed well in an entertaining match, but in the end the league leaders got back to winning ways with a Leighton Hopper hat-trick and a Liam McBryde brace to overcome a youthful side.
It was the Citizens who started well, passing the ball around, and giving Stan much to think about. However Stan responded well when Dean Holmes collected the ball, racing forward with a good pass to James Proctor in the box, he was fouled and a penalty given. Returning from injury, Hopper made no mistake from the spot, on 11 minutes. 1-0
Connor Randall had a low shot straight at Dan Regan. Proctor, full of running, threaded a pass through to McBryde in the area, but Ben Girling came across to concede a corner. Dan Stephenson took it, with Hopper heading to an unmarked McBryde and he tapped in at the far post. 2-0
City’s Lewis Heep had a low shot across goal and wide. Stan had a lovely inter-passing move with Proctor to Stephenson to McAndrew, through for McBryde but he headed straight to keeper Dean Carris. A McBryde half volley which Proctor tried to redirect goalwards, but it went wide. Back came City, a throw in from Ross Pearson to Randall whose shot bounced awkwardly, but Regan collected.
On 28 minutes Girling fouled Proctor on the edge of the area. Stephenson hit a low shot which Carris saved. But two minutes later, Stan made it 3-0 with a superb Hopper run, weaving through the left flank, firing low into the far corner of the net. Oh how Stan have missed the talents of Hopper.
Home captain Ryan Bailey, had a good impact on the game, cover for the back four, but also managing a header which Carris saved. Stan nearly got a fourth in added on time when a Hopper shot was deflected for a corner, which McAndrew took, passing to Proctor and his delightful cross picked out McBryde but he headed over the bar.
Two goals in 3 minutes from City rocked home fans. On 48 minutes Daniel Pringle robbed Proctor in midfield and he surged forward with no one coming to tackle him, and he drove his shot inside the post. 3-1. Then Ross Pearson stroked a low shot into the corner, as again Stan failed to get a tackle in. 3-2.
Hopper – Hornsby – Holmes linked together with Holmes shot saved by Carris. 55 minutes McBryde and Holmes linked well, with Holmes giving the ball to Hopper who curled his shot into the net. Hat-trick and his 11th league goal of the season 4-2. A most important goal as City now had an uphill struggle.
Stephenson had a 25 yard shot which Carris pushed away to McBryde who netted, but was offside.
McBryde was set up again but he was crowded out so he passed to substitute Evan Howard, whose shot brought out a marvellous save from Carris. From the corner Stan substitute David Luke headed over.
Two minutes into added on time with Holmes finding McBryde and he smashed his shot in for his 30th league goal of the season.5-2
Another large crowd, 374 with home league total now 5,465. The total of fans watching Stan home and away in league matches now totals 7,474.
Good performances from Stephenson, Bailey, McBryde, and Holmes, with home supporters voting Leighton Hopper as SMOM.
Credit: Joe Street