After a promising performance midweek at Ellington, things went backwards today as the Stan suffered a surprise defat by Northern Alliance Premier division opposition who they had beaten 4-0 in the same friendly fixture last August. On a positive note, it was the first match of the season that spectators were allowed into.
The match started at the very pleasant Purvis Park with the Stan in control but with no clear effort until 6 minutes when Percy main had to clear for a corner. From the corner, the keeper cleared under pressure then caught the ball. It was the home side that took the lead though in 8 minutes when they attacked, and the Stan defence failed to clear allowing Laidlaw to shoot through them from the edge of the box. In 13 minutes, Robinson counter attacked down the wing and passed to Basham but the keeper saved his effort with his feet. From a 2nd resulting corner, Campbell, who was playing unusually deeper, headed over. In 18 minutes, a Wright long shot went high and wide and 2 minutes later a Campbell long ball to Wright saw him clear in on goal but the keeper blocked well. The Stan kept most of the possession but, after the drinks break, it wasn’t until the 28th minute that they had another effort when Wright’s free kick went just over. Unfortunately, after a 50-50 tackle, a home player had to be carried off after 30 minutes. We wish the player a quick recovery. There was another quiet spell until 36 minutes when Robinson shot just wide. Paterson then replaced Simpson. 2 minutes later and Campbell held off a defender but eventually shot wide. In 40 minutes, Percy Main scored direct from a free kick from a Deagle tackle just outside the box. The ball went along the ground under the jumping wall and into the left hand corner of the net. Due to the earlier injury there was 7 minutes of added time and in the 5th of these a home player broke down the right unchallenged and blasted the ball past Regan for 3-0. The home keeper then had to make a save and the half ended with Paterson hitting the side netting.
The 2nd half saw the trialist replace Basham. After a quiet start Regan caught a header from a corner in 51 minutes. Hoggins then replaced Robinson. Almost immediately, in the 53rd minute, he made a difference. A Stan corner was cleared but Paterson sent the ball back into the box and Hoggins got up to head it into the net for 3-1. In 54 minutes, Wright shot just wide and a minute later a Paterson shot was blocked by the keeper. Regan then had to get down to block from a home effort. In 57 minutes Blackbourne replaced Deagle. After an even period, there were a few minutes of action starting with the trialist supplying Hoggins in 62 minutes who forced the keeper to make a save from a tight angle. The home side nearly scored again when a forward advanced and slipped the ball past Regan but his effort hit the outside of the post. The home side then shot wide before Campbell did the same at the other end. In 65 minutes, Bailey headed just wide from a corner. The home keeper then did well to make 3 consecutive great saves to stop efforts from Campbell, Wright and the trialist. Percy Main then countered and Regan had to block. In 70 minutes Hoggins headed wide from a corner as the Stan continued to fight back. Even so, the home side remained an occasional threat and in 73 minutes one of their players broke free and shot just over when he should have scored. It was end to end for a few minutes although the home side came closest with Regan stopping a long shot and, after poor defending, making a block. Hoggins continued to look dangerous but it was Wright in 81 minutes who saw his shot from a tight angle blocked by the keeper for a corner. From a 2nd corner, the keeper caught a Paterson shot. From another corner, the home keeper blocked efforts from both Imray and Campbell in the crowded box. In 84 minutes, a great ball was sent into the box by Paterson but the trialist couldn’t get to it. The home side then shot across the Stan goal. Basham came back on for Paterson and he immediately had an effort but shot high and over the bar. The Stan kept the pressure on until the final whistle. They had a much better 2nd half especially due to the introduction of Paterson, Hoggins and the trialist, but the match ended 3-1 to Percy Main. At least the sun had come back out just in time for the fans and players to watch the cricket with a pint at the ground through the hedge.