NORTON FC 3 STAFFORD TOWN 4
(Staffs FA Vase)
STAFFORD Town made hard work of beating their County League opponents Norton who battled for every ball and threatened to pull off a shock victory.
It was a somewhat lacklustre display from the visitors and Town keeper Richard Stone had to pull off two good saves in the opening half hour to deny the home side before the Reds took the lead with their first shot at goal in the 31st minute.
Paul McMahon crossed for Spencer Gunnell to finish off a difficult chance. If the visitors expected the floodgates to open they were in for a shock as the home side won a penalty on 38 minutes, converted by Keiron Ball who sent Stone the wrong way.
Three minutes before half time, Norton almost took the lead when Mathew Kinsey’s chip hit Town’s crossbar before being cleared.
After a half time roasting from manager Adam Cunningham and two substitutions, Town fell behind in the 49th minute when Ball finished off a cross to the far post.
Town finally upped their game and began to win possession and pressurise the home goal. Substitute Steve Hopkinson equalised on the hour with a 20 yard drive which flew into the top corner giving Chris Dutton in the home goal no chance.
The visitors regained the lead on 71 minutes when, after good work by John Kirby, McMahon turned just inside the penalty area and fired past Dutton, Eight minutes later, Town looked to have clinched the victory when McMahon crossed for Darryll Johns to control the ball and score.
In the final minute, Joe Donaldson reduced the arrears but Town held on toreach the second round where they will travel to Wolverhampton Sporting Community on November 10.
This Saturday, Town visit Atherstone Town in a Midland Combination league fixture (3pm). On Tuesday, the Reds travel to Bromsgrove Sporting in a league game (7.45pm).
On the junior scene, Town Lionesses under-10s showed great resilience in defeat when going down 6-0 away to Ladywood based leaders Wyrley Pumas.
Early Wyrley pressure led to Town conceding two goals, but the home side were often thwarted by visiting keeper Amelia Goddard.
The Town defence let Wyrley have too much space and possession and paid for it twice before half time as the Pumas opened up a 4-0 lead.
After the break, the Lionesses started in a determined fashion in an effort to put the opening period behind them.
They produced some good football, but were then caught on the counter and Wyrley made it 6-0 with two further goals., In the closing stages, Town continued to battle and went close to opening their account through Ashleigh Hopson and Maia Till. Also figuring strongly for Town were Libby Vincent and Holly Atkins.
Player of the match for Town was Hopson, but on the day, she and the rest of the team had to settle for second best, despite giving their all against the unbeaten Wyrley side. Town Pythons u10s went down 3-0 to Eccleshall Sapphires in the Mid Staffs League.