THIS was a game of two halves at Irongate with Bamber Bridge having the better of the first half but without capitalising on the chances on a hard surface that made it difficult for the Stanley defenders to turn easily.

The two Bamber front men Meccia Showers and Chris Nezianya caused havoc when their pace caught the Stanley defence flat-footed in the first half. A little more accuracy in front of the goal and the home side would have gone in at half time in front.

Left winger Paul Ryan found Phil Robinson who crashed his shot against the left hand post before Nezianya shot and Stanley captain Peter Cavanagh got his body in the way to save on the line.

Both Nezianya from the right and Ryan on the left out-paced Hart and Cavanagh on the slippery surface to put good crosses in that Jonathan Smith and Steve Hollis cleared.

Stanley's Steve Flitcroft was put through by left back Hart but his shot was comfortably saved by Cyril Sharrock in the Bamber goal. Nezianya had a good chance to put Bamber in front when he cut in from the right and drove a shot just wide of the left hand post with Jamie Speare diving to his right but unable to get a touch.

Hart then got forward and floated a cross under the bar that Sharrock caught easily. Both Hollis and Robinson had good chances from direct free kicks, Robinson beating everyone but missing the right hand post by a whisker.

A brilliant tackle by Cavanagh on Lee Cooper in the six-yard box saved Stanley for the third time in the half with Ryan Nezianya and Showers running at the Stanley defence time and again and the Reds were perhaps a little fortunate to go in at half time level at 0-0.

It was a different story in the second half with Stanley creating chance after chance and giving the Bamber defence a torrid time.

Hart played the ball into Mullen on the left and the big man drove it across the six yard box but no one could get a touch and left back Lee Pryors cleared the ball.

A Steve Flitcroft corner from the right was headed back across goal but Russell Payne headed the ball straight at Sharrock. Mullen beat Sharrock with a lob but the ball went just the wrong side of the post then he drove it goalwards but Bamber captain Terry Bowker deflected it for a corner.

The home side broke out of defence quickly from the corner and Stanley central defender Steve Hollis made an excellent tackle on Nezianya to deny the front man a clear run on goal.

Stanley's second half pressure paid off in the 57th minute when Simon Carden broke clear of the Bamber defence 30 yards from goal and ran into the box hitting a diagonal shot and beat Sharrock and went in off the post to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.

Cavanagh made a good run on the right crossing for Carden to head just wide of the back post then David Robinson hit a powerful 20 yard drive inches over the bar as Stanley looked to double their lead.

A back header from Bowker saw Carden nip in front of the defence on the left but Sharrock made a tremendous fingertip save to deny him.

Gary Williams replaced Mark Brennan on 72 minutes and immediately set up Robinson who shot just wide.

Sharrock made another good save from Hart when the left back cut the ball across goal from the by line at an acute angle then Jonathan Smith headed over from a Flitcroft corner before Gary Williams brought the save of the match from Sharrock when Mullen back-heeled the ball and into his path and he drove it goalwards only for the Bamber keeper to make an excellent diving save.

STEVEN FLITCROFT has signed a two year contract with Stanley after putting in some excellent performances in the recent unbeaten run.