Baird is forced to apologise for sorry Southam

Harry Gardiner

Harry Gardiner

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A limp display on the artificial surface at Evans Park saw Southam slump to a 7-0 defeat at Stafford Town on Saturday, prompting Saints boss Alex Baird to apologise to his opposite number for his side’s inability to make the game any sort of contest.

Baird’s plans had been disrupted by two late withdrawals and a car breakdown en route to the game which meant two other players were unable to get to the fixture in time.

However, it did not explain Saints’ inability to cope with the home side’s passing game.

After just 90 seconds, Jack Hepple smashed a shot against the visitors’ crossbar with Harry Gardiner beaten.

Stafford took the lead after four minutes when Ryan Pace’s corner was missed by the defence and an unmarked Hepple was left with a simple finish.

In the 11th minute, a cross by Pace was met by Matt Redshaw, but his shot was saved by Gardiner. A Pace free-kick in the 14th minute was then headed over the bar by Hepple.

Four minutes later, Dan Jones ran clear of the visitors’ defence but Gardiner saved. From the resulting corner, Redshaw shot wide of the goal.

Stafford doubled their lead in the 23rd minute when Harry Bowers’ cross was met by Jones, who turned the ball into the path of Hepple and he finished past Gardiner.

Three minutes later Southam suffered their only piece of misfortune when a through ball found a clearly offside Jones, who squared to Hepple to complete his hat-trick.

On the half-hour, Gardiner cleared the ball and Bowers, spotting the keeper off his line, tried a shot from 40 yards which rebounded off the crossbar.

A passing move between Jones and Hepple led to Bowers scoring in the 37th minute before Hepple had another chance saved six minutes before the break.

Five minutes after the restart, Southam won a corner and Joe Fisher’s header was saved by Ben James.

Stafford hit the woodwork for a third time through Jones before being awarded a penalty for a trip in the area, Pace sending Gardiner the wrong way from the spot to make it 5-0.

With 11 minutes to go, Jez Redler scored goal number six and, a minute later, Pace rounded off the scoring with a chip into the far corner.