The Stan Army were anything but quiet at the Silentnight stadium yesterday in Barnoldswick where over 80 of them had travelled to, including in 2 coaches, to take on a team who play at a level above them in the Northern West Counties Premier Division. There was a friendly welcome form the home team & supporters including all those attending ladies (or prosecco) day & those there for the official opening of the Thomas Hargreaves Stand. There was only 1 change from Wednesday’s excellent performance & win at Jarrow with Campbell replacing McBryde.
The match kicked off on a warm & pleasant afternoon in the picturesque Dales watched by the 4th highest Vase crowd of the day with the home team attacking. The 1st 5 minutes were played mainly in the Stan half with Esdaille & Regan having to clear crosses into the box. The Stan had a good opportunity though to take the lead after 8 minutes when a home player headed backwards in his box & the keeper just got back on time to clear the ball as it was about to go into the net. Soon after a Burn long shot was stopped by the keeper followed by an effort at the other end going across the goal. The Stan then had to head clear in the box with the follow up shot hitting Esdaile in the stomach. In 14 minutes, from a corner, Barnoldswick headed into the side netting. The Stan then had a rare joined up attack involving 4 players with Hornsby shooting well over. After struggling to begin with, the Stan were getting more composed although it wasn’t until the 21st minute that they got a ball into the box again. A few further Stan attacks followed but they struggled to break down the home defence & deal with their pace. In 28 minutes Regan, who did not put a foot wrong all match & commanded his defence, got the ball from a free kick taken from half way. In 30 minutes Regan sent a free kick into the box which was cleared then Barnoldswick had a speculative long range effort which went wide. Campbell then crossed into the box for a corner which was cleared but the home side counter attacked but were off side. In 34 minutes a Stan corner was cleared. They were looking better but still couldn’t break down the home defence who looked dangerous on the break & this led to Regan making a stretching save followed by Hall having to clear. The home threat became reality in 37 minutes when a cross from the left into the box was tapped into the net past Regan by Hill who was shadowed by Esdaille although he couldn’t stop the shot. Barnoldswick attacked again on the break & Regan had to make a great save. From the resulting corner he punched the ball clear. The home side kept the pressure on including where 2 more shots were cleared. The Stan had a corner just before half time. The Stan finished the half 2nd best although things were to change after the interval!
The Stan started the 2nd half on the attack although it was the home side who had the 1st effort when they put the ball over the bar in 48 minutes. Barnoldswick had some more pressure before Burn sent a free kick wide in 52 minutes. For the next 15 minutes, the Stan had more of the ball & were working hard but could not get through the defence. In 64 minutes, the home side had their 1st clear attack for a while which saw good defending by Esdaille. The Stan countered through Hornsby & Carr who supplied Hopper, who hadn’t seen as much of the ball as he had at Jarrow, but he lost the ball as he entered the box. Both teams were trying to attack but as full time became closer, the home side began to sit back as they decided to just defend their lead which ultimately was going to cause their downfall. Added to this, the Stan freshened up their attack. In 76 minutes, a Stan attack saw the ball go to Hornsby whose ball into the box was blocked but the keeper dropped it before it was cleared. The Stan then won a corner from which, sub Burns’s back header went just wide. The Stan pressure led to a goal in 79 minutes when they won a free kick just inside the home half & Burn sent it up to Esdaille who headed to Hopper who flicked the ball to Hall, who had worked hard all afternoon, & he shoots into the net. In 82 minutes Barnoldswick, having been shocked into action, shot well high. Holmes then supplied sub Proctor who advanced down the left but was blocked in the box. The home team then countered & Regan had to block. There was a bad tackle on Proctor in 85 minutes & then Stephenson shot just over. The home side then had a corner which was cleared twice. The Stan were now in control & the home side looked tired as their keeper blocked from the corner which led to another. All the Stan players were working well. In added time, some late home pressure saw a ball into the Stan box missed everyone & went out. Soon after, Hall stopped a home break & a header from the resulting corner was saved by Regan. Just as it looked like the tie would go to penalties, in the 93rd minute, a ball from Burns was blocked & it went back out to Burn whose 40 yard shot was blasted into the back of the net. The Stan Army erupted as the final whistle was soon blown.
The home supporters had their Sewer End but it was the Stan who were smelling success at full time. Although they struggled in the 1st half, they got over the jetlag & showed their quality & strength in the 2nd half. After a fantastic win, they are now in the 1st round proper of the Vase for the 1st time in 40 years. Dreams of Wembley will have to be put on hold though as the Stan are back in league action on Wednesday at home to 2nd placed Sunderland West End.