Squires Gate 2-0 Stockport Sports
Stockport Sports crashed to a second successive defeat going down 2-0 to Squires Gate
Stockport Sports crashed to a second successive defeat going down 2-0 to Squires Gate at The Royal British Legion Stadium, although had The Saxons taken their chances it could have been so different.
It was a much changed line-up for The Saxons, Raphale Evans starting his first league game since August alongside Jamie Street, Craig Flowers coming in for his debut at right-back, Tico Gavi-Mehejdi starting his first league game and Nick Niagorian partnering John Marsden in attack, Marsden captaining the side in the absence of usual skipper Mike Tomlinson.
While other games around the league were affected by the weather, the seasiders pitch was in perfect condition and it suited The Saxons as they soon settled into their passing game. Ricky Anane in particular impressing from the outset as he marauded up and down the right flank beating his markers with ease.
It was Anane who created the first chance of the game, just two minutes in, creating an opening for Niagorian who missed a fabulous opportunity from inside the area. Niagorian then saw Neil Beesley the home keeper brilliantly turn away his effort a minute later. Beesley was unfortunately dismissed during the fixture at Stockport Sports Village a few weeks ago, his fortunes were to change dramatically in this game as he produced a fine performance.
On seven minutes Anane again beat the Squires Gate left back and set up Matty Ward, whose effort flew just over the bar. Anane has lacked consistency at times this season, but on this type of form there are few better right sided players outside the Football League. The home side at times attempted to double mark him in an attempt to keep him quiet, and even that did not prevent him influencing the game.
14 minutes in Liam Irwin fired just over from the edge of the area, then moments later Anane created an opening for Niagorian who headed over from close range.
On the half hour mark Callam Tongue was called into action for the first time, saving smartly from Josh Miller as the striker raced clear of The Saxons defence. The visitors responded with efforts from Niagorian and Ward, but they failed to break the deadlock and the first half ended goalless.
The second half began in much the same fashion as the first with The Saxons dominating possession and territory, whilst creating clear opportunities. On 46 minutes Ward created an opening for Marsden who saw his effort blocked by the home defence and minutes later from a Flowers cross Marsden saw his shot deflected wide.
On the hour mark The Saxons had their best chance of the game Niagorian was sent clean through on goal, he delayed his shot giving Beesley the opportunity to race from his line and block his effort. It was a miss that was to prove crucial as almost immediately Squires Gate struck on the break. Miller crossed into the area and the ball fell to Andrew Harvie at the far post, he jinked inside a challenge and unleashed an unstoppable shot across Tongue and into the far corner of the net.
Less than a minute later it was two, as Niagorian lost the ball in the centre circle straight from the kick-off and Josh Miller was sent clear on goal, the former Arsenal trainee made no mistake firing past Tongue to double the lead.
Having been so dominant during the game The Saxons were shell-shocked by the quick-fire double, however they were able to recover to dominate the rest of the match, although they failed to create any clear openings. Sean Symons saw a long range free-kick tipped over by Beesley and Marsden saw a close range header disallowed by the referee following a right wing free kick.
It was a second successive defeat for The Saxons, and one that leaves the management with plenty questions to ask ahead of Tuesday evenings clash with Stone Dominoes at Stockport Sports Village, a game that now takes on 'must win' status for the club.
1. Callam Tongue, 2. Ricky Anane, 3. Sean Symons, 4. Jamie Street, 5. Raphale Evans, 6. Tico Gavi-Mehejdi (Aaron Best), 7. Craig Flowers, 8. Liam Irwin, 9. John Marsden (c), 10. Nick Niagorian (Michael Atherton), 11. Matty Ward