Road to Bescot

Tuesday 8th October 2013
Stafford Town 0 Tividale 2
Walsall Senior Cup First Round
At: Evans Park, Riverway, Stafford
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1 (28 pages)
Weather: mild and dry

First visit of the season to Evans Park for a Walsall Senior Cup First Round tie where Stafford Town were putting their unbeaten home record on the line against high-flying Tividale.

A quick glance at the Midland Alliance league table highlighted the enormity of the task facing the Reds this evening. Tividale stood second in the table with a 100% record and only kept off top spot because leaders Highgate had amassed an extra four points from the four extra games they had played.

2. Tividale P 8 W 8 D 0 L 0 F 28 A 5 PTS 24

After bigging up the visitors, Stafford Town’s start to the Midland Combination Premier Division season needs bigging up as well – fifth in the table with just two defeats in nine league games. I saw then draw 0-0 at Pelsall Villa seven days ago.

Walsall Senior Cup First Round
Bolehall Swifts v Bolemere St Michaels
Romulus v Wolverhampton Casuals
Stafford Town v Tividale
Walsall Wood v Continental Star
Byes for Bilston Town 2007, Brocton, Chasetown, Heath Hayes, Lichfield City, Pelsall Villa, Rushall Olympic, Sporting Khalsa, Stafford Rangers, Sutton Coldfield Town, Tipton Town and Walsall.

For those of you unfamiliar with the stadium, Evans Park, named after Chairman Gordon Evans, is a relatively new ground which opened in March 2011. All the facilities are adjacent to the entrance including the 192-seater ‘Keith Mottershead Stand’. Keith has been a stalwart of football in Stafford for around 50 years and richly deserved the renaming of the stand in his honour during the summer.

Compared to the Pelsall game seven days ago [Town didn’t have a game on Saturday], the Reds’ starting line-up showed three changes with Alex Barnfather, John Warburton, Morgan Hurley in for Chris McComisky, George Burslem and the boss Adam Cunningham.

Visitors Tividale made no fewer than seven changes to the side that thumped Gornal Athletic 6-0 at the weekend. Andrew Parsons, Tim Jackson, Sam Williams and Ryan Winwood were the four who started both tonight and at the weekend.

Tividale (in all yellow) got the action underway defending the cricket ground end of Evans Park in the first half. Stafford made a “good start” as Adam encouraged his side from the technical area and urged his side to “keep it up”.

Even though neither side created a decent scoring opportunity during the opening 27 minutes, it was none-the-less a decent contest dominated by defences and midfields.

The visitors gradually started to assert their authority and, in the 28th minute, Ryan Winwood cut in from the left and hit a low shot that flashed across the face of the Stafford goal.

Tividale took the lead on the half hour with a goal that provoked much debate. No dispute as to whether it should be awarded or not but who actually should be credited with the goal? Ryan Winwood swung in a corner from the left which went into the net at the near post. My initial reaction was that Karl Edwards flicked the ball into the net [and even tweeted at the time to say so] though at half-time became persuaded that the goal was actually an own goal. Based on what Tividale subsequently tweeted and response from the striker, I’m giving it to Edwards.

Dan Brown responded and fired wide of the right-hand post before the excellent Ben Sturgeon produced two super saves in quick succession to prevent the visitors from doubling their lead. Twice in the 42nd minute, the goalkeeper first did well to push a rising 20-yard snap shot from Andrew Parsons round the left-hand post, then kept out Levi Bailey’s far post downward header from the resulting corner.

Half-time Stafford Town 0 Tividale 1

Sturgeon was again called into action early in the second half, this time to block a well-struck shot from Brett Clark.

Stafford gave a reminder to their fans just before the hour mark that they only trailed by a single goal. A neat passing move set up a chance for Francis Dacres who fired over from 25 yards out.

Sensing an equaliser, manager Adam urged his side to “raise it” and up the “tempo”.

Going into the last ten minutes, extra time still remained a distinct possibility with Stafford trailing to that 30th minute goal [I wasn’t complaining as an extra 30 minutes who have meant that Stafford’s journey on the ‘Road to Bescot’ was still alive.

A bouncing ball down the middle put the Tividale defence under pressure and the harrying Brown forced Luke Paskin to concede a corner. This was swung in from the right by Hurley across the face of goal but no one could apply the finishing touch. Close.

However, football can be a cruel game and it was certainly cruel to Stafford in the 87th minute when Tividale scored their match-winning second goal. A bouncing ball played forward into the Stafford area by Tim Jackson caused problems for Sturgeon and Brett Clark touched the ball into an empty net

Tividale advance to the second round along with Walsall Wood who defeated Continental Star 2-1 at Oak Park.

Stafford Town (red/red/red): 1. Ben Sturgeon, 2. Alex Barnfather, 3. James Wild, 4. Mat Dockerty, 5. Jon Warburton, 6. Joe Woodward, 7. Francis Dacres, 8. Jake Turner, 9. Morgan Hurley (capt), 10. Dan Brown, 11. Jamie Cartwright. Subs: 12. Jack Milgate (for Barnfather, 76), 14. Matt Oulton (for Cartwright, 63), 17. Adam Cunningham. Manager: Adam Cunningham.

Tividale (yellow/yellow/yellow): 1. Jack Hayfield, 2. Andrew Parsons, 3. Tim Jackson, 4. Andrew Dicken, 5. Levi Bailey, 6. Luke Paskin, 7. Samuel Wilson, 8. Sam Williams (capt), 9. Brett Clark, 10. Karl Edwards, 11. Ryan Winwood. Subs: 12. Matthew Waite (not used), 14. Stuart How (for Winwood, 89), 15. David Bellis (for Dicken, 72), 16. Thomas Overfield (for Wilson, 79), 17gk. Charles Price (not used). Manager: Stuart Scriven and Ian Long.

Referee: Mark Murfitt
Assistants: Ashley Parry and Matthew Brattley

Attendance: 45 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:38; second-half: 47:07

0-1 Karl Edwards (30)
0-2 Brett Clark (87)

Cards: none