Stapenhill arrived at Coles Lane second in the league, having secured a thumping 5-1 win away at Cradley Town in midweek, whilst Paget had secured another 3 points away at Dudley Sports, so this promised to be an exciting game.
Paget buoyed by their last performance at home against another of the league’s high flyers Dudley Town were certainly not in awe of their opponents and made a flying start to the game. As early as the second minute, Ronan Sheehan burst through on the left wing to fire a terrific low cross into the Stapenhill box, which was well cleared.
Minutes later, Sheehan, who was having considerable success down the left flank, picked up the ball and after a jinking run, cut inside and unleashed a fierce shot although it was straight at the Stapenhill keeper, Hollis. Paget were now looking the stronger side and from a free kick, swung in from the Paget right, Ryan Butler charged in at the far post and headed into the side netting. Paget now had their tails up and from another free kick, this time from the left hand side, Louie Newbold struck a great curling free kick, which beat the keeper but struck the bar as it went behind.
Stapenhill were not out of it though and as a reminder why they are the league’s leading scorers a swift counter attack saw the Stapenhill forward strike the post.
After such a dominant start though Paget finally got their reward and it was that man Sheehan, having a tremendous game, who burst on to a through ball straight through the middle and with great composure slid the ball passed Hollis in the Stapenhill goal to give the Bears a deserved lead.
Paget clearly had the visitors rattled and minutes later it should have been two, Dave Anani, showing good strength, went passed two defenders and found himself clean through, one on one with the keeper, unfortunately, his shot beat the keeper but also the post and went wide.
As the half wore on Stapenhill began to get themselves back into the game although it still came as a surprise when, with half time approaching, they found the equaliser. Stapenhill forward Teeney, running through the middle unchallenged hit an unstoppable shot straight passed Ben Ntiri in the Paget goal.
Half Time 1-1
As the second half started few in the crowd could have been prepared for what they were about to witness after such a great first half performance from the Bears.
Stapenhill were having more possession now although Paget were working tirelessly to contain the visitors. A couple of injuries, to Ronan Sheehan, who was feeling the effects of a heavy tackle at the beginning of the second half and central midfielder, Kyle Ambris, forced Paget into making changes, with Alex Tesfom and Ollie Gethin brought on to replace them.
In fact it very much felt like it was going to take something special or a mistake to breach the Paget defence and so it proved. From a long range shot from the Paget right, which appeared to be going wide, Ntiri dived to save the ball but could not hold on and Stapenhill forward Brown nipped in to score.
It was not long before Teeney, who was proving a handful for the Paget defence, latched on to a long ball and showing great strength bustled his way into the box before firing the ball into the net.
Paget’s spirit seemed broken after this and Stapenhill, like a racehorse who has got its head in front up the Cheltenham hill, began to pull away. Almost straight away Brown, showing quick feet and trickery, danced his way into the box and slotted home for his second.
To rub salt into the wound of a now tiring Paget, who had given their all, Stapenhill were then awarded a penalty, for handball, which did seem extremely harsh on Paget defender, Brad Pugh. Ntiri in the Paget goal seemed incensed and after continuing the argument with the referee was sent to the sin bin.
Jevani Robinson took over the gloves, but despite a despairing dive was unable to stop Hadyn Brown completing his hat trick.
So as the referee blew his whistle to end the game 5-1, Paget were left to rue not converting more of the chances they created in a breathtaking start to the game and reflect on a second half, where Stapenhill, showed exactly why they are second in the league and the leading scorers.