Stafford Town 2 Lichfield City 5

Tuesday 30th April 2013
In the penultimate home league game of the season at Evans Park, a hat-trick from Liam Holt played a big part in Lichfield City recording an impressive 5-2 victory over Stafford Town in this Staffordshire derby. The visitors were quick off the mark with two goals in 95 seconds during the opening eight minutes from Jon Huckfield and Josh Houghton. Not to be outdone, Paul McMahon soon pulled a goal back for the Reds before Holt scored either side of the interval to put City 4-1 up. McMahon converted a penalty to score his second goal midway through the second half but Holt completed a hat-trick directly from a free-kick.

Stafford Town 2 Lichfield City 5
Athium Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Evans Park
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1
Weather: mild and dry, chillier during the second half

Nobody knows for certain how many points clubs in the Athium Midland Combination Premier Division need to qualify for 2013/14 FA Cup. So, tonight, three points could be useful to both sides in their bid to play in the ‘oldest cup competition’ next season and also end the current campaign in the top ten.

Going into this derby, Stafford (51 points from 31 games) stood in seventh position with Lichfield (47 points from 31 games) three positions below. Both have two games to play after tonight: Stafford at home to Littleton and away to Racing Club Warwick, Lichfield both away and home to Bolehall Swifts (which is an unusual way to finish the season).

Stafford Town (in all red) got the game underway attacking the cricket ground in the first half, which tonight could also have been described as the rugby training end as well. With just 32 seconds on the clock, Alex Rowland tried his luck from fully 30 yards out and fired straight at Lichfield goalkeeper Craig Johnson.

The game quickly came to life with no fewer than three goals in a 132-second spell before the ninth minute.

Lichfield took the lead in the 6th minute. A cross from the left wasn’t cleared and defender Jon Huckfield, up in the Stafford area for a corner, volleyed wide of the diving Richard Stone into the bottom-right corner of the net.

The visitors doubled their lead within two minutes. Kyle Minto, on the left pulled the ball back for Josh Houghton to fire low into the same corner as Huckfield did, again out of reach of the diving Stone.

Stafford were stunned but pulled a goal back less than a minute after Houghton struck. Leading scorer Paul McMahon was allowed to run to the edge of the City area and lifted the ball past the advancing Johnson into an unguarded net.

What a start! 1-2 in the 9th minute.

After Ryan Fox and Francis Dacres both went close to an equaliser for Stafford, Huckfield could have scored another for Lichfield. Found unmarked at the far post by Ollie Rudd’s deep left-wing corner, the defender blasted a first-time shot wide of the target.

With the lights on, chances continued to be created and just after the half-hour, Rowland sent a 30-yard left-foot shot flashing just wide of the left-hand post.

Someone sat behind me the stand shouted “that’s a goal” as a 29 yard free-kick from Liam Holt flew just over the bar.

Holt, however, was on target in the 40th minute to score Lichfield’s third goal. Minto got down the right to the bye-line and pulled the ball back for Holt to hammer a right-foot shot into the bottom-right corner from around 10 yards out.

To the shout of “C’mon Town, let’s want it, all of us”, Lichfield got the second half underway and further extended their lead in the 56th minute. A free-kick delivered by Dan Worrall from near the left corner was headed on by Ryan Baker to the far post where Holt headed home his second goal of the game.

Needing to quickly get back into the game Town threw on Steve Bennett and James Cresswell in place of Rowland and the injured Fox. And, they were reduced the deficit in the 65th minute. Will Evans brought down Darryll Johns inside the area to, in my opinion, deny a goalscoring opportunity but wasn’t even booked by the referee. Mr Stonier decided a penalty was sufficient punishment which McMahon hammered home off the hands of the diving Johnson. Now 2-4 with around 25 minutes to play.

It wasn’t to be the start of a famous comeback as Holt completed a hat-trick in the 72nd minute to score Lichfield’s fifth goal. Out on the left, he tried his luck with a long-range free-kick which looped over Stone and dropped into the far side of the net.

Late in the game, McMahon almost completed his hat-trick. Cresswell played the ball down the right into the path of Stafford’s leading scorer who sent a first-time volley just wide of the far post.

Stafford Town (red/red/red): 1. Richard Stone, 2. Tom Hind, 3. Joe Woodward, 4. Mat Dockerty (capt), 5. James Price, 6. Ryan Fox, 7. Darryll Johns, 8. Jason Cunningham, 9. Paul McMahon, 10. Francis Dacres, 11. Alex Rowland. Subs: 12. Luke Woodward (for Joe Woodward, 75), 14. Jamie Cartwright (not used), 15. James Cresswell (for Fox, 62), 17. Steve Bennett (for Dacres, 62). Manager: Adam Cunningham.

Lichfield City (blue with white 'V'/ blue / blue): 1. Craig Johnson, 2. Will Evans, 3. Jordan Hunt, 4. Todd Perry (capt), 5. Jon Huckfield, 6. Dan Worrall, 7. Ollie Rudd, 8. Liam Holt, 9. Kyle Minto, 10. Josh Houghton, 11. Ashley Evans. Subs: 12. Jacob Snape (for Houghton, 62), 14. Ryan Baker (for Evans, 23), 15. Lewis Bourne (for Holt, 77), 16. Richard Deavall (not used). Manager:

Referee: Paul Stonier.
Assistants: Lee Stevenson and Matt Brattley.

Attendance: 51

Duration: first-half: 47:26; second-half: 46:00

0-1 Jon Huckfield (6)
0-2 Josh Houghton (8)
1-2 Paul McMahon (9)
1-3 Liam Holt (40)
1-4 Liam Holt (56)
2-4 Paul McMahon (65 pen)
2-5 Liam Holt (72)

Stafford: Mat Dockerty (YC, 52), James Cresswell (YC, 68)
Lichfield: Liam Holt (YC, 51)