Exactly 100 years after the Stan’s first involvement, they were again participating in the FA Cup in what was also their 1st competitive match of the 20-21 season. Tonight also saw covid capacity increased to 300 and their was a healthy crowd of 261 (including visitors from Scotland, Leeds and Manchester) despite the torrential downpour for most of the match. The match was also first on the BBC’s list of UK and international football fixtures for the evening. The tie was a rerun of the 2016 one and unfortunately the score was the same although the Stan put on a great performance.
The Stan put out a strong attacking team including new signing James Proctor. The West bench included their new signing from the Stan, keeper Johnny Ball. The torrential rain made it difficult for fans to see the ball from the kick-off. The Stan had the 1st 2 attacks but a ball through to Campbell saw a defender clear then the West keeper Flynn blocked Hoggin’s shot. West then hit the side netting. These were the highlights of the 1st 10 minutes as both teams got used to the conditions although the Stan players dealt better with them than the slower but more physical visitors. The Stan continued to try to attack although the 1st half was relatively even overall. After a number of Campbell advances, Paterson and Proctor linked well in 16 minutes but Paterson scuffed his effort wide. A common theme of the match was the pacey Campbell winning loose balls in the middle of the park and he shot just wide after 23 minutes. In 29 minutes the visitors countered after nothing was given for a foul on their bye line but the Stan cleared. 3 minutes later and Regan blocked at the feet of a West player in 6 yard box and the rebound shot was deflected over with the subsequent corner cleared. The rain was reducing the chances on either side, although Campbell and Proctor looked dangerous. Regan stopped a West effort and in 43 minutes a Stan corner was cleared with the rain being the winner at half time.
The Stan started the 2nd half on the attack and had 3 advances in the 1st 2 minutes. It was the visitors who took the lead though in 49 minutes when Blinco broke free on the right and shot high past Regan and a defender. West attacked again twice before Campbell broke free in 53 minutes and the keeper deliberately brought him down in what looked like just inside the box. The ref only booked Flynn and awarded a free kick which went through the wall but Flynn just put out for a corner. The corner was eventually cleared and Simpson was wrongly booked for a foul. In 58 minutes, after Regan had cleared, a defender failed to hold onto the ball on half way and Campbell nipped in and this time put the ball past Flynn for 1-1. The crowd erupted. The Stan were still pressing although it was the visitors who shot just wide in 62 minutes. Paterson was then brought down in the west box but nothing was given. The Stan continued to press including through a Bailey cross to the advancing Proctor whose header was put just wide by the keeper. The ball from the corner was blocked. In 71 minutes, the Stan had the ball in the visitor’s 6 yard area and after various efforts it ended up in the net but was disallowed for off side. After consulting with his linesman, the ref awarded a penalty for a foul in the build up which Paterson converted in the 73rd minute. West then hit the bar before Regan saved but they equalised in 75 minutes when a curving ball into the box went past everyone and into the net. The Stan didn’t give up and in 83 minutes Campbell broke and was brought down. Sub Johnson’s free kick hit the bar and Imray headed into the net but was wrongly judged to be offside. In 87 minutes, another Johnson free kick is cleared and West’s counter is cleared. The match is getting tense and West physical as penalties loom (there is no extra time this season). A minute to go and the Stan clear off the line. 2 minutes into the 5 added on, and the ball goes across the Stan goal from a corner and is then headed clear. The Stan are under pressure, although Campbell manages an effort, but they stand tall until tragedy strikes in the 95th and final minute. Bailey clears but the ball goes back into the crowded 6 yard box and a West player scores off the post. A great performance from the Stan distracted the crowd from the dreadful weather but unfortunately the Stan will now have to focus on the Vase route to Wembley.