UTTOXETER TOWN 3
STAFFORD TOWN 1
UTTOXETER Town made it four points from the bank holiday with a 3-1 victory over local rivals Stafford Town at the Racecourse.
Manager Mark Grimley was without the unavailable Matty Redshaw, Lee Bagley and Harry Price from the side who played out a hard-fought point with Studley 48 hours earlier, but welcomed back Mark Springall and Ollie Mellor from holiday.
Stafford started quite sharply but their ball retention and width opened up the visitors' defence, and had it not been for some profligate finishing, the hosts could have sewn up the points before the break.
James Curley headed straight at the Stafford number one from a sumptuous John Littler delivery before John Lamburn's effort was also well saved by the visiting stopper from six yards.
With Uttoxeter's midfield three of Jack Holley, Martin Gadsby and Kyle Esplin controlling the match, it appeared only a matter of time before the hosts took the lead and the deadlock was duly broken on 30 minutes.
A swift break, started after a fine Alex Langridge save, saw Doug Price charge into the Stafford half.
The in-form centre-back picked out Lamburn's excellent run and the forward turned quickly before delivering a superb cross to the back post, where the onrushing Curley was on hand to stoop in and head home from four yards.
It was no more than Town deserved and they started the second half in a similar vein, doubling their advantage on 52 minutes.
Alex Woods picked out Curley, who shrugged off two defenders before lifting the ball over the keeper with a sumptuous finish.
The hosts were in cruise control and with Uttoxeter's back four looking assured, keeper Langridge was rarely threatened by the visitors.
The game approached the final 10 minutes with Town creating more opportunities but Stafford's keeper was equal to everything, denying Lamburn and Esplin with two fine stops.
Stafford were given a lifeline in the closing stages when Lamburn was dispossessed on the halfway line and a ricochet fell kindly to the onrushing striker, who finished well from six yards but any hope of a comeback were dispelled within two minutes when 16-year-old Ollie Ritchie marked his second appearance for the club – after impressing for the youth team – with a fine left-footed finish.
Gadsby won the ball and drove forward before Lamburn switched play to Ritchie, and the youngster shifted the ball quickly and slammed home a crisp finish into the bottom corner to seal the points for Town.
Curley nearly completed a hat-trick after a fine run but it mattered little as Town brushed aside their neighbours and go into Saturday's away trip to Southam in decent form.
UK-OPS MAN OF THE MATCH: James Curley, two goals and an all-action display from the front man.
TOWN: Langridge, Woods, D Price, Springall, Littler, Holley, Gadsby, Esplin, Lamburn, Mellor (Ritchie 75), Curley.
UTTOXETER TOWN 0
UTTOXETER Town opened up their bank holiday weekend double header with a hard-fought point against a well organised and resilient Studley outfit.
Studley, who have been a fixture in Midlands non league football for decades, were always going to provide a stern test to Grimley's men but the hosts were arguably the better side during a tense first 45 minutes.
Neither side created clear cut chances, although both threatened on occasion, Matty Redshaw's excellent curling effort and a side foot volley from Curley's cut-back as close as either side came to taking the lead during the opening spell.
The second half was much the same, neither side looking as though they could break the deadlock until a Bagley header was cleared off the line by the Studley defender from John Littler's whipped corner, and an Alex Woods drive flew inches wide.
As the game approached the closing stages, more openings came at both ends, and a deflected effort from Studley's front man looked for all the world to have beaten Langridge, until the keeper managed to react brilliantly, diverting to safety with an outstretched foot.
He bettered that save on 87 minutes, denying the visiting striker the winner with a fine low save to preserve a deserved point for Town.
In truth, it was not the finest match that Town have played but the disappointment of a goalless draw with league heavyweights Studley is a testament to how far Grimley's men have come in such a short space of time.
HILL AND WEBSTER MAN OF THE MATCH: Alex Langridge – two fine saves from Town's number one.
TOWN: Langridge, H Price, D Price, Bagley, Littler, Holley, Gadsby, Curley, Esplin, Redshaw, Lamburn (Ritchie 81)
There will be a coach to Southam tomorrow (£5) leaving Oldfields at 11.50am.