Heaton Stannington 1-0 Brandon United
Saturday 31 October 2015
Given that this was a Halloween fixture, we were guaranteed at least one ghoul and so it turned out in the end. Another 100+ crowd packed into the Grounsell Park ‘cauldron’, maintaining the Stan’s record this season of having the second largest average attendance in the division.
The Stan, with 3 changes from last Saturday, dominated the initial period of the first half with a succession of attacks that led to several shots on goal. One of the best moves was near the start, when Wear lobbed the ball across the pitch to Telford who, following a quick one-two with Wright, hit an unsuccessful shot from the corner of the penalty box. Not long after, Wright was able to wriggle into the box from a similar position only to have his shot blocked. Almost immediately another brilliant cross from Hoggins found Bailey who then shot past the left hand post. On 11 minutes, a Stan free kick from the right curved across the front of the 6 yard box that Telford connected with but his shot was saved by Wilson in the Brandon goal. Moments later, a pass from Wright (recorded for posterity) released Telford who shot past the post. It was hard to believe that for all this toil and trouble the Stan remained goal-less! At this point the game swung to the other end of the pitch where Wren, unmarked on the penalty spot, received a through ball from White. His momentary hesitation led to a rushed shot but it still had to be saved by Backhouse who pushed it over the bar. Soon after, Telford’s hard work almost paid off with a pass to Wright who shot over the bar. Despite all Stan’s pressure, their only goal on 28 minutes resulted from an own goal when a Burns shot was deflected off Brandon’s Searby and into the back of the net. The first half ended with a series of unsuccessful Brandon attacks although the last shot of the half was a 20 yard screamer from Wright that was saved by Wilson.
The second half opened with a weak penalty claim from Brandon, followed almost immediately by two Stan attacks that demanded a save on both occasions. Brandon followed this with a period of sustained pressure culminating in their best chance of the match, ironically a scything defensive kick from Joe Wear that had to be acro(bat)ically saved by Backhouse to prevent an own goal! Waite was then replaced by Lee Johnson (our very own ‘Gassa’, according to pre-match changing room rumours). Brandon’s Wren picked up the only yellow card of the match soon afterwards for a bone-rattling challenge on Hoggins who was soon replaced by Watson. There then followed a prolonged period of Brandon possession, pressure and shots on goal. Their best attempt being a solo run by Thexton into the Stan box who showed some wizardry after beating two defenders and Backhouse only to see his shot saved off the line by a third defender. Fortunately, no Stan defender had been tempted to make the grave error of conceding a penalty so late in the game. The referee appeared bewitched and unable to bring the game to a close. Despite the second half lasting almost 52 minutes, as nae man can tether time or tide, the final whistle was eventually blown and the Stan achieved both a third consecutive victory and clean sheet.
Stan Team: Backhouse; Ray (Carrasquillo); Stoddart; Wear; Scott, P; Bailey; Telford; Waite (Johnson, L); Wright; Hoggins (Watson); Burns. Subs unused: Dixon; Imray.