BEFORE the game started there was a general feeling among Town supporters that gaining a point against high flying Staveley would be a good result, but afterwards they wondered how Town had not won.
It was a fantastic team performance and almost complete dominance against one of the best footballing teams in the League.
Town were on their game from the first minute, with manager Paul Quinn, playing himself for the first time, setting the tone with some excellent early challenges in midfield and captain Nick Jagger dominating in defence.
Early pressure saw a good chance after six minutes, Shane Hamilton guiding the ball into the path of Tom Matthews who struck the post with a crisp shot.
Hamilton pounced on a poor goal kick from Staveley keeper Ian Deakin but he was hurried into shooting early and wide.
Deakin then saved Matthews’ powerful strike from the edge of the box.
Staveley were struggling to get out of their own half with the Town back four of Sutcliffe, Jagger, Wilson and Brown in fine form being first to every ball.
Anthony Haigh and Jagger picked up bookings during the first 20 minutes of Town pressure, the latter to have consequences later in the game for the skipper.
On 24 minutes Matthews crossed for Danny Naidole to place a difficult header on to the roof of the net and Brown and Naidole combined to give Matthews the opportunity to shoot just wide.
The chances kept coming for Town. Hamilton set up Matthews but again Deakin saved well in a one-on-one situation.
The resulting corner from Luke Gibson saw Jagger’s header blocked on its way into the net.
Just after the half hour mark, Haigh had a well struck shot saved by Deakin and Gibson had a mazy run past a couple of would-be tacklers, but shot wide as he was closed down.
Staveley stuck to their principles of passing the ball and trying to build from the back but they barely threatened the Town goal in the first 45 minutes.
Town keeper Ben Imeson just had a couple of routine catches to perform.
On the stroke of half time, Town created another chance when Sutcliffe’s pass forced a mistake from Jones, and Matthews was on it but his effort missed by inches.
Town supporters feared a Staveley backlash in the second half, but it never really came and Town started as they finished the first.
Gibson had an early effort just off target, and Haigh’s pass put Hamilton clear on goal but again Deakin saved and Matthews could not force home the rebound.
Hamilton had a goal-bound header cleared and Quinn had a low shot blocked in front of goal.
Deakin was having an inspired night for the home side in goal, but Staveley were also indebted to defenders Joel Birks and Chris Fawcus who were keeping them in the game with some excellent defensive work.
Town had created chances at regular intervals, but midway through the half came the first lull in the game with play centred more in midfield.
During this spell Nick Jagger received his second yellow for an innocuous challenge that meant Town had to play the last 21 minutes with only 10 men.
Matthew’s tenacity carved out another head-to-head with Deakin, who again made a good save.
A measure of Town’s dominance was that it took Staveley until the 73rd minute to create their first chance of the game when Chris Coy’s excellent cross was headed wide by Ryan Damms.
It was five minutes later before they had an effort on target with Imeson saving Andy Fox’s header.
The latter part of the match saw Staveley come more into the game as they made use of the extra man.
But both Matthews and Hamilton were still giving the home defence a torrid time.
Haigh, who had a fine game for Town, brought another save out of Deakin and it was disappointing to see two Staveley players booked for diving late on in an otherwise excellent game of football.
Town might not have got the result they deserved but performances like this can only help to further reinforce both the manager’s and players’ belief that they are building a team than can be competitive at this level.