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Result: Beverley Town 0 - 1 Staveley Miners Welfare

Beverley slipped to their first defeat in 11 matches in a shock loss to mid-table Staveley, who were also the first side this season to prevent the Beavers from scoring at home. The visitors, fielding a very young squad, deserved to lead 1-0 at half-time as Beverley were ponderous, flat and lacking in cohesion, but the second half was a different matter entirely, as they chucked the kitchen sink at Staveley, who somehow managed to survive the pressure. Perhaps this defeat was coming, as Beverley have had to dig deep several times this season and, this time, when they went to the well once more, they found it dry.

The previous weekend’s match against Retford United was an absolute pleasure to watch, but this was painful at times - in the first half when Beverley simply failed to get going, and in the second half when they were denied time after time by an outstanding display by Staveley keeper Zac Walker, who can seldom have played as well as he did in his brief career to date. The defence in front of him kept their shape and stayed calm under the onslaught, and whoever has taught such a young side the art of wasting time and feigning injury in the second period has done a wonderful job.

Staveley started much the better and went close twice in the first 10 minutes, before Beverley were denied twice in quick succession, as Olly Baldwin, who had his full-back utterly baffled in the first half, saw his shot saved, and Matt Plummer’s header was cleared off the line. These were sporadic attacks, though, and too few and far between to stop the visitors from threatening and, on a bobbly pitch, Beverley’s passing and control wasn’t precise enough. The only goal of the game came after 25 minutes when Noah Flint headed in from a corner when given too much space in the box, with the only quibble being that the corner resulted from a free-kick that wasn’t a foul all day long.

Beverley’s response was slow in coming, but 10 minutes later they deserved to be level when Ben Hinchcliffe clattered a volley against the bar with the keeper beaten for once, and Grant Tait’s free-kick was saved, before his looping header went just wide. On another day these all go in and Beverley would have been comfortable, but Staveley went in at half-time thoroughly deserving their 1-0 lead.

The second half began with keeper Walker being booked for timewasting at a goal kick, but from that point on the half belonged to the young shot-stopper. Staveley’s only threat in the second 45 minutes was on the break as Beverley pushed more and more players forward in search of an equaliser, and that sense of losing to a limited but determined side only heightens the frustration given the tough run of fixtures ahead. Baldwin again got to the byline only for his pull back to hit a Staveley player and bring about appeals for a penalty, and Plummer’s delightful ball over the full-back gave the winger another shot on goal, only to be denied by an outstanding block as Staveley put their bodies on the line time and time again.

The introduction of James Piercy allowed Nathan Hotte to move into midfield, which in turn pushed the opposition deeper and deeper as the half progressed, and Tait’s shot was spilled by the keeper, only for him to block the follow up and see his net survive once more. With the opposition taking it in turns to go down with cramp (why is it only teams that are winning get cramp, by the way?) and the noise from a season-high crowd of 407 getting louder and louder, it still seemed only a matter of time before the equaliser, and potentially then the winner, came. But if anything summed up Beverley’s afternoon, then the moment on 80 minutes was it. A great free-kick from the left was headed back across the six-yard box, with the ball dribbling along and screaming out to be poked into the net, only for it to evade everyone and squirm to safety. Hinchliffe and Joe McFadyen went close again in the dying embers, but one was left with the feeling that Beverley could have been there until Christmas and they still wouldn’t have scored.

Just one of those days? To an extent. On another day, several of the half chances go in and Staveley make mistakes that contribute to a simple home win. But the first-half performance wasn’t anything like good enough and, in this league, even the leading sides will get punished if not at their best. This was one such occasion.



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