At the 3rd attempt, and again behind closed doors, the Stan finally both scored in and won a pre-season friendly. They travelled up the Northumberland coast to Ella Park take on Northern Alliance division 2 Ellington who are managed by ex-Stan assistant manager Richie Mitchell. Anyone expecting the trip to the seaside to be in summer conditions was disappointed as it was wet, cold, dark and even more wet for most of the match. The match saw a welcome return to the club for Lee Johnson who made an impact from the start. There was to be more nostalgia in the 2nd half but more later. Richie Hoggins partnered Connor Campbell up front after playing the 1st friendly at centre half.
The 1st 8 minutes was relatively quiet although the home keeper was put under pressure then had to punch clear after 3 minutes. The Stan were ahead after 9 minutes when a Johnson free kick into the crowded box saw Bailey head to Campbell who headed into the net. Ellington responded immediately down the left wing and shot just wide. There was then great work from Johnson which resulted in the 1st of 3 consecutive corners. From the 3rd, Miller’s header was blocked on the line and Hoggins’s rebound shot went high over the bar. Ellington countered and a player was blocked before another shot went just over from close range. The Stan then had 3 more corners that were all blocked. The Stan kept the pressure up and in 21 minutes Campbell headed just wide. A minute later and the Stan were awarded a soft penalty for a handball but Hoggins’s effort was well saved by the keeper. The Stan again continued to keep the pressure on and, after some good running, Paterson, who had a good game, shot but the keeper got down to stop his effort. On the half hour, Regan did well to block an Ellington shot with his feet. After a quiet spell, an Ellington shot was going just wide after 35 minutes but Regan put it out anyway for a corner. From the corner though, Ellington blasted the ball into orbit. It was 2-0 after 39 minutes when a corner ball was sent into the crowded Ellington box and one of their own players put it over the line. In 41 minutes, after some good work to win a corner, Paterson shot high and wide. Then after a good joined up attack with Campbell, Hoggin’s shot was saved by the keeper. The half finished just after a Johnson shot went through the crowded box and the keeper saves from Bailey then Paterson’s rebound shot hit the post.
The 2nd half started with Simpson replacing Blackburne. Almost immediately a Simpson effort is saved then Bailey’s shot was blocked by the keeper. Unlike the miserable weather, there was a quiet period until in 52 minutes Hoggins’s header was caught by the keeper. Bailey then shot wide as the Stan started another period of pressure. In 54 minutes, Hoggins’s effort was cleared off the Ellington goal line. There were then 5 Stan subs. Callum Wells, who was a trialist on Saturday at Benfield, Basham, Robinson, Mason and Wright replaced Stoddart, Hoggins, Imray, Paterson and Campbell. In a time of uncertainty and change it was nice to see some consistency with the return once again of the Stan’s very own comeback kid Jon Jon boomerang Wright. Less than a minute later he was in the centre of things as the Stan were awarded a 2nd penalty but he clipped the bar from it. Things were better for the other returnee Johnson in 60 minutes when he scored direct from a free kick, which went over the wall, to make it 3-0. In 62 minutes, from a Wright corner, Miller headed wide. The Stan kept the pressure on and in 68 minutes a Waters long ball saw Robinson head just wide. In 68 minutes, Imray replaced Johnson. A rare Ellington shot was then put out for a corner by Regan but from it the home side eventually headed well over. The Stan put the ball across goal in 71 minutes before shooting wide. 2 minutes later and a long ball to Basham saw his effort saved by the keeper. In 75 minutes, a Robinson run ended with him chipping a defender but his effort went just wide when it should have been in the net. In 82 minutes, he made amends when got up to head in a Basham cross for 4-0. There was more Stan pressure as the weather got even worse and after a Basham effort went near, in 87 minutes the home keeper saved efforts from both Wright and Robinson. In the end the Stan had a comfortable win but Ellington battled and competed throughout.