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Villa Lose Big In Stafford

It was a day to forget as Ashville fell 6-0 at Stafford Town.

Buoyed by a recent uptick in form, Ashville travelled to mid-table Stafford Town full of confidence and optimism. Rightly so too, the recent 3 win unbeaten run included two teams with promotion dreams; Title chasing, Brocton & playoff chasing, Maine Road. This team has proven time and again this campaign that they can hang with the best step 6 has to offer them.

Then came along Stafford Town to hand out a brutal reality check...

Okay, maybe the intro is a bit over the top as for a large period of this game the scoreline didn't feel justified. It wasn't the brutal mauling you would imagine it to be, more just a case of a bad Ashville performance against a team who took their few chances lethally.

The opening 20 minutes was pretty devoid of chances as both teams tried to suss each other out. Then the first real effort of the game for either side came when Jayden Hunter cut inside and saw his shot go to centrally and Ebbrell got behind it easily.

On 24 minutes Villa responded with a chance of their own as Ben Greenop fed Peter Morgan on the edge of the box but the winger couldn't keep his shot down under pressure.

One minute later Ashville were picking the ball out of their own net. An excellent turn by Patryk Mazurkiewicz got him past two Villa players before looking up and seeing Josh Wilson had beat the offside trap. Wilson received the ball with space and time before slotting calmly under an onrushing Ebbrell.

Villa nearly got level on 32 minutes, Tom Davies causing mayhem down the right hand side before pulling the ball back to Josh Maldon who a first time curling effort away from Jenkins but the Stafford stopper got a finger to it to tip it around the post.

Two minutes later and Ashville broke Stafford down again, Tom Davies once again the orchestrator. He beat his man a couple of times before whipping in an optimistic low cross but out of nowhere Peter Morgan appeared. The winger didn't connect cleanly and his attempt came off the post, rebounded off Morgan away from goal and was hastily cleared.

Stafford didn't offer much outside of some good wing play by Hunter despite controlling the ball but in the first half almost all the chances fell to Ashville. They would add another mark to the tally on 41 minutes when Josh Maldon received a drop ball in the centre of the pitch. Maldon immediately plays it wide to Tom Davies who produced a delightful flick to get Greenop in behind. Greenop tried a first time curling effort that went agonisingly wide.

Then Ashville were hit by the second sucker punch of the day. Jayden Hunter once again terrorising the Ashville defence cutting inside, seeing his blocked effort falling in the stride of Mazurkiewicz who volleyed home the second from close range.

Ashville could argue they were unlucky to go in 2-0 down at the break but it was from problems they created. Still though, there was optimism that Ashville could turn it around in the second period.

For the opening 15 minutes of the second half Ashville were unquestionably the better team and a goal seemed like it was coming. That was until the 60th minute when Sam Scott curled one in off the post from range. Stafford nealr made it four just two minutes later when the home side tried the same trick. This time Ebbrell did get there first but his attempt to take it around Mazurkiewicz was thwarted by the Stafford striker who couldn't keep his composure and fired wide.

Ashville still felt like they could get something from the game at this point and nearly got their just rewards on 68 minutes when a corner found Shaun Parrington at the back post. His knockdown found Morgan who tried to prod it home but it was cleared off the line with the rebound falling to Davies who saw his volley well parried by a retreating Jenkins. The game would be well and truly wrapped up two minutes later though when a quick attack from Stafford town saw a looped ball behind which Ebbrell was beaten to by Mazurkiewicz, the striker lobbing Ebbrell for a Stafford fourth.

A 76th Minute corner nearly yielded a consolation for Ashville as once again it found Parrington at the back post but this time the striker did find the side netting, just on the wrong side of the post. It was at this point that the Ashville performance really became disjointed.

In the 78th minute Jayden Hunter got past Adam Sunners who brought the Stafford winger down for a penalty. It had been coming, Hunter was consistently beating both full backs no matter which side he was on and it was almost surprising it took so long for him to be brought down in the box. It was also inevitable that he would eventually score, which he duly did by rifling home the penalty despite Ebbrell guessing the right way.

Villa would ultimately end the game with 10 men as substitute, Charlie Bennett, went over on his ankle and had to come off. Ashville had used four of their five permitted subs but the only sub left was goalkeeper, Jamie Kelly. Gary Jones decided against playing a goalie outfield and so Villa would finish a man down.

A minute later and Stafford hammered the final nail into Ashville's coffin. Shaun Farrall was caught in possession and the ball was floated over for Jayden Hunter who smashed home a ferocious volley.

It was certainly a day that Ashville will not be clamouring to remember but strangely, it wasn't their worst performance this season. Rather it just seemed like one of those whacky weekends of football that happen once in a blue moon. Ashville will no doubt be fired up to put things right when they travel to Cammell Laird 1907 on Monday in the second and final derby of the season. Lairds also had a day to forget in Stafford on Saturday. Just down the road in Brocton they were comprehensively beaten 4-1 to leave Brocton just 3 points away from lifting the league title.. And to complete this little weird triangle, Brocton could win that title on Monday at home to Stafford Town. See, it really is one of those whacky weekends.

Kick off in Monday's derby is 3pm at KRCT Stadium.

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