Stafford HC 1sts travelled to Keele University last weekend to play Market Drayton HC, narrowly losing 3-2 to last years league champions.
Stafford were hopeful of upsetting the odds against the Shropshire team but were unable to exert any pressure in the early stages. Drayton gradually increased the pressure on the Stafford circle, eventually winning a penalty corner. Brad Evans in goal saved the first shot well but Stafford were unable to clear and another corner was awarded. This time the drag flick seemed to go through Evans for Drayton to take the lead.
Stafford were then guilty of switching off as the Drayton sweeper pushed forward and was given the ball on the edge of the circle, his shot was well executed to double the Drayton lead. A few tactical switches saw Stafford eventually create some chances, wing back Andy Barnett looked like he would score but somehow managed to miss from a few feet out.
In the second half, Stafford played much better and soon pulled a goal back when Andy Peatfield used his pace to beat his man, Randall Moore then waltzed past the keeper and laid the ball off to Dan Howe who slotted it home from a narrow angle. Stafford then got another back when Steve Marsh’s shot was saved illegally on the line and Ben Cantrill flicked the penalty home for his third goal in as many games.
Unfortunately Stafford could not score anymore goals and Drayton got the winning goal after a slick penalty corner routine gave Brad Evans no hope. Evans was deservedly awarded man of the match for a string of excellent saves. Stafford were obviously disappointed but should take some reassurance from a much improved second half performance against a good team. Next week they are away against Wednesbury HC.