Despite a long-standing relationship with the Scarborough club of old, this was Stafford’s first visit to the Athletic founded in 2007 and their two-year-old Flamingo Land stadium complete with its artificial pitch. But it was the strong wind, rather than the pitch, that was the main challenge for both sides. Scarborough had it in their favour in the first half and used it to their advantage to build up a two-goal lead inside the first 20 minutes and though Stafford came to terms with it to produce a strong finish to the first half, they weren’t as effective with the wind as the home side had been.
Stafford keeper Adam Siviter was called into early action, making a fine left handed save to keep out a snap shot from Matty Dixon inside 90 seconds.
But the home side grabbed the early advantage when they made the breakthrough in the 10th minute – Michael Coulson flicking on a Jamie Forrester corner and James Williamson converted from close range. Stafford’s first effort come from Andy Haworth following a long free kick from Thandi, but Tommy Taylor made a comfortable save low to his left.
Moments after Tom Davie’s throw had bounced just wide off Dan Burns, Luke Lofts doubled Scarborough’s lead in the 19th minute after finding space inside the area to drill home an unstoppable shot past Siviter. Stafford were steadily coming to terms with the conditions and Davies sent a reminder that they were still in the contest with a well struck drive at Turner after good work from both Jake Charles and Theo Bailey-Jones. Soon after, Luke Jones headed over.
It was Charles who deservedly reduced the arrears five minutes before the break when he was gifted the ball by Coulson and fired beyond the reach of Turner’s outstretched left arm. A bright opening to the second period saw Scarborough make it 3-1 in the 57th minute though there was a degree of luck as Lofts’ cross rebounded into the net off Thandi. Stafford worked hard to get back into the game with Tom Thorley, Charles and Joe Cuff all just missing out. But it was Scarborough who came closest to adding to the score firstly when Matty Dixon’s when his 25 yarder came crashing back off the cross bar. The ball came back out to Dixon, but he could only fire straight into the arms of Siviter. A few minutes later, Lofts went clean through only to be denied by Siviter, then, when front man James Walshaw looked set to score, Davies put in a timely tackle to prevent the shot.
The home side finally made it 4-1 in added time through a Walshaw penalty, harshly awarded when Coulson appeared to fall over following a tackle from Luke Jones – deemed fair by the referee but the linesman flagged for the offence.
Scarborough:1 Tommy Taylor, 2 Josh Lacey, 3 Tom Davie (14 Dave Merris 45m), 4 Luke Dean (15 James Cadman 80m), 5 Ross Killock, 6 James Williamson, 7 Jamie Forrester (12 Nathan Valentine 48m), 8 Matty Dixon, 9 James Walshaw, 10 Michael Coulson, 11 Luke Lofts. Unused Subs: 13 Tom Morgan, 16 Jack Johnson
Stafford Rangers: 1 Adam Siviter, 2 Sim Thandi (16 Ben Mills 82m), 3 Matt Hill, 4 Luke Jones, 5 Dan Burns, 6 Jed Davies, 7 Theo Bailey-Jones (15 Joe Cuff 65m), 8 Tom Thorley, 9 Jake Charles, 10 Peter Williams (17 Andrai Jones 76m), 11 Andy Haworth. Unused Subs: 12 Sam Coulson, 14 Jack Sherratt
Cautions: Killock (Scarborough), Burns (Rangers)
Referee: Neil Howlett