After thumping the same opponents 5 1 in the Senior Cup on Thursday night, and beating them in September in the Vase, it was a confident Stan that travelled to Dr Pit’s Welfare Park for a third meeting of the season with the Terriers. The side, ripped apart with injuries and absence ruling out the likes of Ray, Miller, Simpson, Waters, Bailey, Mason, Paterson, Wright, Wilson and Campbell, showed two changes from Thursday with Leech and Imray replacing Bailey and Dixon.
The hosts included former Stan players Westphal and Anderson.
The Stan kicked off attacking the Clubhouse End with the going soft to heavy. The Terriers had the best of the early exchanges with Anderson heading over unchallenged in the 3rd minute and another corner being headed wide in the 8th. Anderson then tried to loop a header over Regan from the edge of the box but the keeper was able to get back and save. The Stan were struggling to get going and the onslaught continued when a loose pass was intercepted on the edge of the box but the shot flew high over the Stan bar, Regan then had to be at his best to deny Hopper with a flying save from another free header.
The overworked keeper then made a more routine save as the Stan defence watched Hopper attack another cross but the deadlock really should have been broken on 31 minutes when a slip by Hall let in Anderson but the ex Stan forward evoked memories of a spectacular miss at Birtley last year by rolling his finish straight at Regan.
Regan was called into action again in the 36th minute with a block at his near post but amazingly the Stan took the lead a minute later when the previously anonymous Proctor drove forward to find Carr who’s shot was saved and Kerridge placed a calm right foot finish past Dryden with virtually his first touch.
Carr shot straight at Dryden as the Stan finally improved but it was a very fortunate lead that we took into the break.
HT: Terriers 0 – 1 Stan
The hosts were straight out of the blocks after the break and it took a great clearance by Stoddart at the back post to keep the lead intact, the Stan were then in debt to another ex player for missing a sitter as Westphal volleyed over from 12 yards after a header fell nicely for him.
Burns replaced Kerridge on 57 minutes and soon had a shot deflected wide for a corner as the Stan finally started to play in Bedlington’s half.
The desperate defending continued and in the 66th minute Imray slid into a tackle in the box and Mr Sloanes pointed to the spot despite Imray seeming to win the ball cleanly. Hopper took his time as an incensed Stan argued long and hard with the official but calmly sent Regan the wrong way to level it up at one all.
The penalty certainly looked harsh but there was no denying that Bedlington deserved to be level after dominating the opening hour but they couldn’t believe their luck 7 minutes later when a more contentious penalty was awarded. Hopper skipped past Stoddard on the left and played a one two as he entered the box but Stoddart redeemed himself with a superb tackle just as the big striker was about to shoot, the loose ball fell to a Bedlington attacker but Regan denied him with a tremendous save only for the hapless Mr Sloanes to point to the spot again. Once again Regan went to his left and Hopper calmly sent him the wrong way to put the hosts ahead.
The Referee had finally woken the Stan and they were straight on the attack and although a through ball looked easy for Dryden to claim Dobson panicked and bundled Hoggins over for the most obvious of penalties. Sadly for the Stan Mr Sloanes was on a roll and his Assistant on the stand side who saw it clearly looked petrified to raise his flag.
Dixon replaced Johnson and a debut was given to Harper on for Proctor, as the Stan rallied for one last push but although Imray had a shot blocked, a Dixon free kick was headed clear and three corners were forced in stoppage time, it was too little too late from a seething Stan.
FT: Terriers 2 – 1 Stan
The Stan could have no complaints with the result as Bedlington had dominated from the start and they should have been out of sight long before Mr Sloanes intervened.
That said, Bedlington never looked like beating Regan from open play despite the goalkeeper virtually playing them on his own.
The Stan will dust themselves down and hopefully welcome some of the missing 10 players back for the visit of Crook next week but sadly the last word is left for the officials.
Everyone at this level of the game understands that if the players aren’t Premier League standard then the officials certainly won’t be either, and Mr Sloanes who has twice had fine games in two previous games between the two sides is a more than competent referee. It is however disappointing that an Assistant at this level apologises to his Ref for not making a call for a throw in because he wasn’t watching. It is no wonder then that some Referee’s are happy for Assistants to only call for the in’s and out’s and avoid any big calls, and that the same Assistant’s are reluctant to flag when they’ve seen something obvious.