What a difference four days make! Stann Army left Purvis Park on Saturday deflated by a poor performance and a 1-3 defeat, which might have been worse. However, just like Stann, they play a Division One side who had a good last season, and Stann raised their game to finish winners thanks to a first half strike from Connor Campbell.
The match was watched by the first crowd of the season, with 150 allowed in. Drizzle started prior to the match, but it remained dry for most of he game. Shields were on the front foot from the start with Dan Regan making two saves in the first 6 minutes. First stop, in the first minute, when he pushed away a strong low header, and then 5 minutes later he parried another header away. With Stann’s first attack they took the lead, on 9 minutes when a long ball was flicked on by Ritchie Hoggins which Connor Campbell ran onto a bouncing ball, and cleverly lobbed the ball over keeper Greg Purvis to take the lead. On 14 minutes Craig Spooner’s 25 yard shot, scraped the top of the crossbar. The visitors were dominating the play but the home defence gave a solid performance. It was great to see Michael Hall back where he belongs, alongside Josh Miller, and not surprisingly he lasted just short of an hour. On 22 minutes Ryan Bailey fed Regan Paterson, on the right side of the area, and he tried to clip over Purvis but the ball veered just wide of the far post. Three minutes later a Dan Wilson header was sneaking inside the post until Regan acrobatically threw himself full length to tip the goal bound effort around his post. Back came the hosts with Dean Deagle from 20 yards hit a good effort first time, low, but narrowly wide. A minute later Spooner smashed the ball goal bound, but again Regan would not be beaten, pushing the shot over his bar. The resulting corner, like many of them, were managed well by the home defence. On 36 minutes Nick Cassidy’s low right foot drive was diverted for a corner with a superb closing down effort by Ryan Bailey. From the corner Callum Smith glanced a header wide. 4 minutes later, once again Paterson was showing flashes of his genuine ability, got to the byline and put in a brilliant cross for Campbell to crash the ball against the bar and Shields breathed again as they cleared. Ali Stoddart got in the act of closing down another strike, getting his body in the way of a shot. from Wilson The first half ended when Paul Van-Zandvliet headed wide. (It was later revealed that Paul incurred an injury and had to go to hospital, and discovered he has broken his foot. We wish a speedy and full recovery)
The second half saw a trialist on for Deagle. North Shields started as if they were going to plunder some goals, with much of the play dominated by them, but their final ball and finishing let them down, not to mention the heroics from Regan and his defence. But it was Paterson on the right who showed us what he can do, by rounding his marker and firing in a low 30 yard drive, which Purvis fumbled but regathered as Hoggins sought to capitalise. Joe Blackbourne came on for Hall, Lee Johnson for Hoggins and Josh Allan for Imray. Four minutes later another trialist came on for Paterson. Shields came close to an equaliser when a low shot from Rhys Williams went across the goal but narrowly wide. The trialist took the resultant free kick, going for goal with Purvis doing well to turn away his effort. Stann under pressure from mounting attacks, were having difficulty in having an out ball for someone to hold onto, with the result that the ball came quickly back towards the home goal. The answer was on 74 minutes when Paterson returned to the action, replacing Campbell. Few real chances for Shields but they dominated possession, without causing too many problems. Stann were much better tonight, playing as a unit, linking well when going forward. Hall, Paterson and Campbell caught the eye with their display, but the others all played a valuable part. Towards the end our custodian claimed my man of the match with an instinctive right boot stopped a blockbuster of a shot from Jamie Clark. On 87 minutes Paterson, once more ran down the right and put in a good cross but Johnson’s superb attempt to stretch and put in went narrowly over the bar. The final act saw Ryan Carr’s header from a long throw hit the post.