FEATURED ARTICLE: Staveley edge Dronfield in hotly contested League Cup clash

It may have been only Three Degrees in Dronfield last night (Music trivia; the Three Degrees have always been a trio but have had 15 different women members during their career to date) but it was the usual warm welcome at the H. E. Barnes Stadium last night, where the home side lost an entertaining Toolstation NCEL League Cup Third Round tie 4-2 to Staveley Miners Welfare in front of a shivering crowd of 77, writes Colin Muncie.

The car park on Shireoaks Road was already pretty busy when I arrived; I walked down to the ground, paid my fiver (no freebies at TBG), bought my match day programme, had a quick catch-up with midfielder and big Graeme Souness admirer and penalty-king Andrew Fox, now back at Staveley at last after a year at Parkgate, then grabbed a hot drink in the usual splendid company of Club Secretary, Mike Payne. Mike was looking forward to the game, the first of three consecutive Cup games for Town, and all in different Competitions -League Cup tonight, FA Vase on Saturday, and away at Belper Town in the Derbyshire Senior Cup Second Round next Tuesday. It’s a busy time on Stonelow Road.

Manager Chris Millington popped over – with his team sheet already submitted -for a quick word of welcome. With the important FA Vase game on Saturday, Chris had elected to ring the changes for last night’s tie, resting one or two regulars and introducing a few of his promising Under-19’s for the evening. He still expected to be competitive, mind, on a playing surface which was in immaculate condition (Point made!).

The players and supporters observed – en masse – a minutes’ silence for those who fell in defence of our Country, and also as a mark of respect for the horrific events in Leicester last weekend.
It may have been cold, but the tie started at a cracking pace with one or two ‘committed’ challenges from both sides.

The visiting support from Staveley had travelled the eight or so miles across North East Derbyshire and were their usual excellent highly vocal – and mildly sardonic – selves in the early minutes, earning their Chairman a touchline rebuke from referee Martyn Fryer for speaking out of turn. The referee, by the way, played his part in a decent watch last night, looking to keep the game flowing, trying to keep his cards in his pocket, and taking a firm line on dissent. Good to see!

Staveley had the upper hand in the early minutes, passing the football well, and from a beautifully crafted move down the right, Jahmal Riley – with some work still to do – made space for himself before finishing tidily in the far corner after just eight minutes.

Dronfield responded almost immediately with a couple of fine moves of their own, and after 18 minutes Callum Mawbey, through on goal on the right-hand side, expertly converted to the left of the onrushing goalkeeper to level the tie.

End to end stuff, and if neither club was taking the League Cup seriously, no-one had bothered to tell the players. As a queue started to form at the Club Cabin with the promise of a reviving drink, Charlie Oglesby pulled off a fine header from a right-wing cross and found the far corner to restore the Trojan’s advantage, and the visitors retained the lead until the interval.

Into the second half, and with the home side on the front foot, Mark Fereday, who had been a handful for Connor Williamson and the Staveley defence all evening, fired home an absolute screamer from distance into the left-hand corner to make it 2-2. A cracking goal on 55 minutes.

You got the clear impression that no-one wanted extra time as both sides went for the win, with Dronfield throwing on a couple of front players. The game opened up as a result, and the home side were caught on the break after 65 minutes, leaving Tyla Bell to finish coolly, putting the visitors back in front.

The home side continued to push forward in search of a third of their own, but a controlled, well-placed strike from the edge of the area from Sam Kay –following a corner – extended Staveley’s advantage to 4-2 and the visitors saw the game out – despite a couple of late scares.

A fine game, then. Dronfield now look forward to a massive FA Vase Second Round tie at Walsall Wood on Saturday, and everyone at TBG wishes them every success.

Staveley – no strangers themselves to success in the FA Vase – travel to Garforth Town in the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division.

Dronfield Manager, Chris Millington, was pretty satisfied with his side’s night shift, although he felt that the scoreline was a touch harsh. “The final score was a little disappointing,” Chris told TBG, “but I was pleased with the lads that we brought in to the team, and how they played. We played with more intensity than we did on Saturday – against a team in the League above – but again a few individual errors were punished.”

Chris was impressed by the visitors but he quickly moved on to that Vase clash with Midlands Football League Premier Division side Walsall Wood – managed by former Walsall and Rotherham striker Darren Byfield – at Oak Park this weekend. “Credit to Staveley – they played some good stuff at times, and our younger lads will benefit from last night’s experience,” Chris admitted.

“We are now focusing on Saturday which is a really big game for the club in the FA Vase,” he added. ”We know it will be a really tough test but we go into the game with no pressure – and hopefully will be able to cut out the errors that have seen us ship eight goals in the last two games.”

The Bootiful Game would like to thank Mike Payne, Chris Millington and the Committee, Staff and Volunteers at Dronfield Town for their generous welcome last night. Thanks also to Staveley Miners Welfare for playing their part in a fine evening’s Non-League football.

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