26 August 2008
Left: Man of the Match - Harvey Gayle
STANSFELD PRODUCED a performance worthy of their return back to the Premier Division against Phoenix Sports, but were denied a deserved victory by a couple of late Phoenix goals, writes Dave Marks (34).
Stansfeld started brightly and showed the benefits of a hard pre-season, with a performance full of skill and running. In the 10th minute a slick passing movement between Danny Wardle and Harry Draper found debutant Harry Maloney, who burst past the Phoenix defence but was blocked out by the advancing keeper. Stansfeld kept up the pressure and went close from a couple of corners but could not take advantage of all their pressure and nearly paid a heavy price when a defensive mix-up allowed the Phoenix centre forward through on goal, but quick thinking by Ricky Ward in the Stansfeld goal saw him out smartly, diving bravely at the feet of the advancing forward and cleanly taking the ball.
The sides were all square going in at half-time, despite Stansfelds domination.
A half-time rollicking from manager Danny Steele who was unhappy with his side’s, passing saw them come out for the second half with their tails up. The harsh words at the break seemed to have done the trick, and within 10 minutes Stansfeld were in front when Jamie Turner broke in from the right; avoiding two challenges and shot towards the back post but a deflection saw the shot fly into the corner off the near post for a deserved lead. Ten minutes later and Stansfeld doubled their lead when Harvey Gayle broke through and smashed a shot from 30yards into the top corner. Stansfeld kept on the pressure and should have increased their lead further but were denied by the Phoenix keeper. Eight minutes from time and Phoenix were back in the game, two shots on target were blocked on the line by Michael Scowen but he was helpless as the follow-up was rammed home. Three minutes later and Stansfeld's dream return was in ruins, when a free-kick from 25yards went under the Stansfeld wall and found its way into the bottom corner.
Stansfeld held on to the final whistle and took a disappointing draw from this opening fixture.
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