Despite the continued covid restrictions, including having to wear a mask & receive table service just to get a take-away coffee, it was a memorable night for the Stan who travelled to County Durham. They got their highest away & joint highest overall win in the Northern League era. To add to the positivity, the weather was in direct contrast to that during the last match a week ago when it was torrential rain as it was a dry & mild night. There were 3 changes with Simpson, Imray & Wright replacing Leech, Miller & Campbell. It was Michael Hall’s 100th appearance for the Stan & it was also apparently the 1st match played under Brandon’s new floodlights.
Brandon got a corner after 3 minutes but after that it was mainly the Stan in terms of possession & attacks. After 5 minutes, a long diagonal pass to Carr saw his shot go well wide of the far post. Carr continued to look dangerous & 2 minutes later a free kick led to him heading over & then he had a shot which was easily caught by home keeper Smith. It continued to be mainly Stan but Brandon had a rare attack cleared in 14 minutes before Carr had a shot blocked at the other end. Many of his chances were due to the hard work of Wilson. In 17 minutes, a Burns long shot hit the side netting. Brandon had a couple of couple of attacks then a shot deflected wide in 22 minutes. Burns then ran down the left but instead of passing he shot & hit the side netting. Regan was then forced to make a good save at the other end. In 28 minutes, Wright had his shirt pulled in the box & then was fouled just outside the box. His free kick always looked like it was going overall the wall & into the net & it did. The Stan searched for a 2nd goal & 2 minutes later Wilson shot over then Smith blocked a Carr effort. Soon after Carr should have scored but miss hit the best chance & then shot over. The Stan did get a 2nd in 36 minutes when Burns’ shot from outside the box went into the net off the far post. The Stan kept attacking but there were no more goals, at least until the 2nd half!
In 47 minutes, Brandon failed to clear allowing Wright to shoot from outside the box & his effort went in off the bar. Brandon then attacked but were dispossessed in the box & after a quieter spell the home side attacked again in 52 minutes. Carr & Wright both then shot well over & wide respectively. Wright then sent a long range effort over the bar. The Stan kept the pressure on attacking at will & Wright shot just over in 59 minutes. Brandon had a rare attack eventually cleared after 63 minutes. Campbell then replaced the injured Wright & his contribution was clear to see. Much of the action was in the home box & Campbell headed just wide in 65 minutes before another rare Brandon attack. The Stan pressure paid off in 68 minutes when Burns was blocked near the post & the ball went back out to Wilson on the edge of the box who blasted it into the net for his 1st Stan goal. He was then replaced by Bailey. Burns was also replaced in 76 minutes by Dixon who a minute later cut into the box & supplied Campbell who headed in the Stan’s 5th goal. 2 minutes later Brandon had an attack cleared & Campbell countered but was blocked. In 78 minutes, Campbell forced the ball into the 6 yard box through a number of defenders for Bailey to tap into the net. Brandon had an attack cleared but the Stan were almost immediately 7 up in 79 minutes when Carr ran down the right & passed to the advancing Campbell to shoot into the net. Hoggins then hit the side netting & Dixon was blocked by Smith with his rebound shot going wide. The 1st sustained Brandon period of attack of the half came after 85 minutes including 2 efforts going wide & 2 other efforts cleared. It was the Stan though who came closest when Hoggins had a header blocked in 89 minutes & a minute later he got his deserved goal when his shot in the box from a throw in went in to make it 8-0.
Kevin Carr had a great game but should have converted chances in the1st half. Richie Hoggins as usual worked his socks off. Despite the score, Brandon did not give up, but it was the Stan who gave a great performance which will get the Stan Army excited in advance of Saturday’s FA Vase tie.