Sunday 6th February 2011
Staveley MWFC increased their lead at the top of the NCEL to 4 points with 2 games in hand and also maintain an 11-point gap between the 3rd placed club at the top of the chasing pack with a convincing 3-0 victory against a hard working and well organised Eccleshill Utd side.
Overnight rain had made the pitch really heavy but the referee was content that the playing surface was playable and through the 90-minutes that decision was proven to be the correct one although groundsman Vaughan Ransom will have his work cut out to try and get the pitch ready for football again in midweek.
Staveley kicking into the strong winds started off at a terrific pace and the Eccleshill keeper was brought straight into the action. Winning 3 early corners in the first 5 minutes, Staveley were looking in good form, passing the ball around with Chris Coy showing up well.
Ash Foyle returned the ball back into the Eccleshill area and the keeper looked nervously around as his slip nearly fell to Staveley's attackers.
It was all one way traffic at great pace and as Staveley took a quick free kick, the Eccleshill centre half blocked the ball deliberately and he was the first of 4 Eccleshill players to find the yellow card being brandished at them.
On 17 minutes, some great work by Jordan Eagers down the right brought a great cross, but Ryan Damms' effort went just over the bar with the first goal looking a certainty to arrive.
Another caution came for a late challenge on Kyle Fores-Chambers on 20 minutes as Eccleshill struggled to get any rhythm going.
On the half hour some great work and link up play between Jordan Eagers and Chris Coy ended with his shot being gathered well by the Eccleshill keeper who was the busiest player on the park.
Joe Thornton was giving the Eccleshill right back a torrid time and his fantastic cross on 34 minutes went begging for someone to tap it in, but Eccleshill, who were hanging on by a thread, cleared the danger.
Eccleshill's first real chance came on 32 minutes when a looping cross was not gathered and Eccleshill forced a corner.
Eccleshill were creeping back into the game and on 40 minutes, a glaring chance went astray for them which would have been unjust on the balance of play, but goals win matches, not chances.
A surging and great passage of football on 42 minutes by Staveley ended with Jordan Eagers effort going inches over the bar.
With 45 minutes up the teams went in 0-0 with Staveley wondering if it may be just one of those days.
The Eccleshill keeper again brilliantly saved Chris Coy's effort on 50 minutes as Staveley continued to dominate.
Staveley did eventually take the lead on 57 minutes when the ball was played into Jordan Eagers, the Eccleshill defender seemed to try and come through the side of him and he rolled his defender and crashed the ball home with a crisp drive into the bottom of the keeper's left hand post.
A vociferous Eccleshill bench would not let the restart go without some colourful verbal exchanges with the officials and the referee had obviously had enough of it when he sent the Eccleshill manager Ian Banks away from the technical area.
Eccleshill's centre forward was then booked as the visitors seemed to be losing their way as they were being well restrained by a competent Staveley side.
On 63 minutes, a great strike from Jordan Eagers from 25 yards into the top corner gave Staveley a deserved 2-0 lead.
Protecting what they had, Staveley made the changes with Richard Patterson coming on for Ryan Damms and Jamie Smith for Kyle Fores-Chambers.
Staveley held possession for a 20 minute spell where Eccleshill were rooted in their own half.
A stamp on Andrew Fox by the Eccleshill centre half could have been more than a caution as Eccleshill were struggling to cope with Staveley.
Chris Fawcus came on for Ash Foyle who tweaked his hamstring, but Staveley continued their dominance.
Any threat by Eccleshill was immediately cancelled out by a professional defensive performance where Tom Jones again was excellent and an influence on Staveley's young side, whilst Michael Staley continued his consistent excellent form.
Staveley were opening up Eccleshill at will and Chris Coy in particular was simply outstanding.
With 3 minutes of injury time called by the referee, an audacious and magnificent goal from Joe Thornton sealed the points when he saw the keeper off his line - the winger thumped the ball over the keeper from all of 50 yards to rapturous applause from a crowd of 82 - which on a horrid day was exceptionally pleasing to see.
Staveley had put together a great run of 6 straight wins and in the last 17 league games, 42 points had been gathered with 13 wins, 3 draws and just the 1 loss at Eccleshill way back in October, so perhaps today's victory was some recompense for that loss.
Manager Billy Fox was rightly pleased with the squad's efforts. Eccleshill had watched Staveley several times, so the manager changed one or two things around which paid off from the start.
Then, after taking a 2-0 lead, he changed things to protect the points.
A 3-0 win, with a clean sheet, against a side that thought a win for them today would push them into the promotion reckoning, was earned by the Staveley players with a great deal of hard work and tenacity shown, none more so than Chris Coy's performance and some great finishing with goals of the highest quality, show that Staveley look to have some good momentum going in this league.
On Tuesday, it's AFC Emley at home and no doubt the Staveley groundsman will be hard at work getting the pitch ready to see if Staveley can increase their lead at the top of the NCEL Division 1.
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