A hugely entertaining game saw Chasetown condemn Kidsgrove Athletic to their third league defeat of the season with a 3-1 success at the Seddon Stadium.
Gary Birch
Gary Birch continued his recent run of goalscoring form with a fine double, while Reece Styche was again on target in a match where the action flowed ceaselessly and a double figure aggregate tally could have been possible. Kidsgrove got off to the better start when Liam Shotton displayed good pace down the left and crossed low to Matt Haddrell, but Scholars keeper Ryan Price grabbed the ball at the point of shooting. The hosts continued to cause Chasetown a few problems down the wings but the visitors soon fought back, Ben Steane’s cross finding Gary Birch in the goalmouth but his header came to nothing. Shotton then fluffed a clear chance on nine minutes, his shot going wide of the post, before a second chance four minutes later bounced off the upright. Styche then shaved the top of Steve Intihar’s crossbar with a header from a long ball courtesy of Craig Milligan, but the end-to-end action continued with Price and Tom Marshall keeping a further attack at bay before Gary Birch went close for the Scholars with a header. Styche then went close again, firing straight at Intihar as Chasetown began to look more determined, Steane cutting in from the right on 31 minutes and crossing to Birch but his header cleared the bar. A Chasetown goal was looking more and more likely, and four minutes later the Scholars were ahead when Steane and John Branch produced some fine play down the right and found Birch, and this time the striker made no mistake with his right-footed shot. On 41 minutes a long ball bounced over the Kidsgrove defence and while Birch couldn’t quite get to it this time, Styche could and he flicked the ball over Intihar to double Chasetown’s lead. Aiden Matranga then unleashed a long range shot for the Grove which flew wide of Price’s post and the hosts were unable to find a breakthrough in the run-up to half time. Duncan Horler leapt to clear a Kidsgrove corner at the near post in the 50th minute, and the recent returnee to the Scholars was then at the other end where his shot was tipped over the bar by Intihar. Steane and Styche then combined to set up Birch in the 59th minute and the striker fired home, but the strike was thwarted by the linesman adjudging the ball to have crossed the goal line to the disappointment of the travelling supporters. Chasetown’s play was becoming more lively and flowing by the minute, Birch beating three defenders on the hour mark to play the ball out to Milligan whose cross fell back to Richard Batchelor whose shot went wide of the mark. After two consecutive corners came to nothing, the home side pulled a goal back when full back Danny Smith stole into the area following an excellent run through midfield and beat three Scholars defenders before firing the ball low into the far corner of the net. Chasetown’s response was almost immediate, and on 66 minutes Milligan and Steane combined on the left with the former sending a perfectly placed ball to Birch who headed home his second. Steane was having a superb game for the visitors and his cross one minute later just failed to meet Styche, before a scramble in the Scholars area saw Price and his defenders somehow prevent Kidsgrove from scoring. Price impressed again on 77 minutes to deny Haddrell with an excellent save before Tim Sanders just failed to get on the end of Ricky Bridge’s cross, and Haddrell was frustrated by Price once again as the Scholars keeper plucked away his header. The fast-paced end-to-end entertainment showed no signs of letting up, and in the 80th minute Batchelor crossed to Steane on the left who rounded keeper Intihar but Adam Beasley blocked his shot when he seemed certain to score. Chasetown now switch their focus to the Staffordshire Senior Cup as they visit local rivals Rushall Olympic in the first round on Tuesday evening (November 17), 7.45pm kick-off, with the winners visiting Stafford Rangers in the next round. Kidsgrove: Intihar, Danny Smith, Dove (c), T Schwarz, D Schwarz, Sanders, Matranga, Hall, Shotton, Haddrell, Moss.  Subs: Walker (Shotton 46), Beasley (Moss 28), Shenton, Bridge (Matranga 59). Chasetown: Price, J Branch, Milligan, Slater, Marshall, Teesdale (c), Steane, Egan, Birch, Styche, Horler.  Subs: Danny Smith, Titchiner, M Branch (Styche 75), Batchelor (Teesdale 27), Miller.