Stockton Town 3-0 Heaton Stannington
Wednesday 28 September 2016
The Stan made 2 changes to the side beaten by the Synners in the Vase for their 1st ever trip to Stockton’s 3G pitch. Blackett and Jones replaced Deagle and Yates in a 3-5-2 line-up. The hosts, whose move to Stockton College Campus had finally allowed promotion after winning the Wearside League 4 seasons on the trot, included experienced northern league players Chris Dunwell and Chris Stockton and they have made an impressive start to their first northern league campaign.
Stockton kicked off and immediately took the lead when Chris Stockton got down the left and crossed for Joe Carter to hook a great volley past Smith. The goal was timed at 19 seconds ….it seemed quicker! The Stan were reeling as they struggled with Town’s movement which continuously found space behind the wing-backs and they could have conceded again but eventually they regrouped and Robinson had a shot saved before he also forced a good block from the advancing keeper after a good move. A Blackett drive flashed over on 20 minutes and Walton was torturing the right back time and time again but all the Stan’s good work was undone on 22 minutes when awful defending gave Carter the space to shoot past Smith for his 2nd. He might have completed his hat-trick on 28 minutes when he shot just wide but Stockton did increase their lead on 35 minutes when Smith and his wall were deceived by Kallum Hannah’s free kick after more abject defending and a needless foul.
By all accounts, manager Derek Thompson gave them grief at half time and replaced Scott and Johnson with Wear and Imray, and reverted to 4-4-2 although in truth he could have subbed any of the starting 11. After a 15 minute spell where the Stan steadied the ship, they then really had a go at Stockton. Jones volleyed wide on 60 minutes, Robinson was crowded out 4 minutes later, Blackett had great chances saved or missed on 70, 76 and 78 minutes, and Imray had an effort saved and then another goal-bound shot blocked. Although Stockton still looked dangerous on the break, the Stan continued to press and Yates, who had replaced Robinson, headed just wide from a Jones corner but the Stan could not get a goal that their 2nd half display deserved. The game finished with Smith saving well from Johnson and Nicholson heading against the bar from the resulting corner.
Despite the better 2nd half performance it was disappointing to see the Stan surrender their run of 7 consecutive away wins with such a poor 1st half display. Stockton are definite promotion contenders but with a better start, the Stan might have got something. The impressive clubhouse boasts the biggest telly on Teesside and it was there that the Stan Army finally got something to cheer when Newcastle scored twice at the death to sicken Norwich.
Stan Team: Smith; McCabe; Walton (Y); Scott (Wear); Stoddart; Williams (Y); Bailey: Johnson (Y) (Imray); Robinson (Yates): Jones; Blackett. Attendance 133