Stafford Town 3 Shifnal Town 3

Tuesday 30th August 2011
Stafford Town 3 Shifnal Town 3
West Midlands (Regional) League Premier Division
At: Evans Park
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Attendance: 45 (headcount)
Weather: rain first half, chilly
Duration: first-half: 51:10; second-half: 47:37

After the marathon Welsh session of eight games in three days, it was back to more familiar territory this evening with a trip to Stafford Town. With victories over Sporting Khalsa (7-2) and Dudley Town (4-1) since my visit to Evans Park, it was a journey made with the expectancy of seeing another win. And while Steve Dockerty’s side didn’t take all three points, they produced an excellent battling performance to earn a draw with an injury-time equaliser after playing the whole of the second half with ten men.

Stafford Town (9 points from 6 games) went into the game in ninth position in the Premier Division table, three places and two points better off than visitors Shifnal Town (7 points from 5 games).

With lights on from the start, Stafford Town (wearing all red) got the game underway attacking the cricket end in the first half but quickly fell behind to an opening goal scored on 44 seconds. Gareth Horler got into the area on the right and sent a right foot shot into the far side of the net past Karl Smith.

Smith produced a decent save to keep out Mark Adamczyk’s close range shot, a save that proved to be vital as Stafford soon equalised in the 7th minute. Craig Hulme netted with a lovely curling right-foot shot from 15 yards out.

Watching the game in the company of Andy Dakin, making his first visit to Evans Park, neither keeper was seriously troubled until Smith turned round Adamczyk’s angled shot as the interval approached.

Deep into first-half stoppage time, the game turned dramatically in favour of Shifnal. Smith was adjudged to have brought down Chris Henry on the edge of the area, though the keeper looked to have played the ball. The nearest assistant put his flag across his chest to indicate penalty and Smith was sent off for a professional foul. Dom Ward went in goal and almost kept out Stuart Corns’ penalty sent low into the bottom left corner.

With no substitute keeper on the bench, Town midfielder Carl Morris played the whole of the second-half in goal and was rarely put under pressure.

The referee, who made several inexplicable decisions during the evening, again became the centre of attention twice in the space of four minutes immediately before the hour mark. The visiting bench were furious that Wayne Bailey’s challenge on Liam Bood was only punished with a yellow card. In the 59th minute, Corns caught Dave Woodvine in the face with the Shifnal midfielder also escaping with a booking.

Stafford got back on level terms in the 67th minute. The flag stayed down as Sam Agar latched onto a pass down the right and coolly slotted home.

However, a long range shot from Corns eight minutes later that flew over Morris into the net put Shifnal back in front and it looked like the Shropshire side would take all three points. Morris did well to keep out George Williams’ shot as the visitors almost scored again.

But full credit should be given to the Reds for not giving up and battling right until the end. Agar got into the area on the left and beat Anthony O’Connor with a low shot only to see the ball agonisingly miss the far corner of the net.

Stafford’s chances of a point appeared to be over until they were awarded a corner. With seven players inside the Shifnal area, Josh Anderson delivered a perfect corner and Agar powered home a first-time header. 3-3!

The deserved point lifted Stafford up to fifth position in the table, eight points behind leaders Wednesfield who maintained their 100% record with a 2-0 home win over Wolverhampton Sporting Community.

0-1 Gareth Horler (1)
1-1 Craig Hulme (7)
1-2 Stuart Corns (45+6 pen)
2-2 Sam Agar (67)
2-3 Stuart Corns (76)
3-3 Sam Agar (90+1)

Results: Black Country Rangers 6 A F C Wulfrunians 1; Dudley Sports 1 Shawbury United 0; Malvern Town 3 Cradley Town 1; Pegasus Juniors 0 Bewdley Town 1; Sporting Khalsa 1 Wolverhampton Casuals 3; Stafford Town 3 Shifnal Town 3; Wednesfield 2 Wolverhampton Sporting Community 0