Stafford Rangers 3 Alfreton Town 1

Saturday 30th April 2005
Stafford Rangers 3 Alfreton Town 1
Nationwide North
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Programme: ???
Attendance: 719
Weather: sunny
Duration: first-half: 46:03; second-half: 47:10

Stafford Rangers ended the inaugural Nationwide North season with a 3-1 victory over Alfreton Town which made sure they moved above Redditch United to finish in eight position with 59 points from 42 games.

Alfreton got the game underway attacking the Social Club End in the first half.

Despite the visitors enjoying plenty of early possession and creating chances, Stafford took the lead in the 14th minute against the run of play. Danny Edwards delivered a free-kick into the area which Neil Grayson headed home.

Grayson doubled Stafford’s lead 13 minutes later. Nathan Talbott picked up the ball on the left, took it forward and sent a deep hanging cross into the area which unmarked Garyson headed into the net out of reach of Lee Butler’s right hand.

The veteran striker could have completed a hat-trick before the interval. He lifted a shot over the bar from Joe Anyon’s deep free-kick.

Grayson went close with a header which Butler held early in the second half and Talbot sent a 25-yard shot over the bar.

Alfreton didn’t look that dangerous yet pulled a goal back just after the hour mark. Matt Fisher crossed from the right and Peter Duffield headed into the top left corner, out of reach of the diving Anyon.

With renewed hope, the visitors started to press for an equaliser and Ian Robinson saw a shot blocked inside a crowded area from Fisher’s corner.

Entering two minutes of stoppage time, the final score looked like being 2-1 but Stafford wanted to finish the season in style. Man of the Match Grayson forced a point-blank save out of Butler before Robin Gibson curled Stafford’s third goal into the top-right corner.

At full-time, Craig McAughtrie was named Supporters Player of the Season with Grayson in second place and Robin Gibson in third place.

With Stafford finishing in eight with the tightest defence in the division, it was Southport who topped the final table to gain promotion to the Nationwide Conference with a three-point margin over runners-up Nuneaton Borough.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Joe Anyon, 2. Craig McAughtrie, 3. Dennis Pearce, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Craig Lovatt, 7. Nathan Talbott, 8. Lee Downes, 9. Neil Grayson, 10. Danny Edwards, 11. Robin Gibson. Subs: 12. Richie Miller (not used), 14. Alan Dodd (for McAughtrie, 82), 15. Richard Beale (not used), 16. Robert Heath (for Pearce, 80), 17. Alex Gibson (not used). Manager: Phil Robinson.

Alfreton Town (red/red/red): 1. Lee Butler, 2. Carl Bradshaw, 3. Nicky Heinemann, 4. Luke Foster, 5. Grant Brown (capt), 6. Matthew Fisher, 7. Ian Robinson, 8. Richard Cooper, 9. Chris Bettney, 10. Peter Duffield, 11. Mitchum Ward. Subs: 12. Robert Cam (for Bradshaw, 72), 14. Steven Wooley (for Bettney, 59), 15. Paul Teather (not used), 16. Ben Chapman (not used), 17. Lee Featherstone (for Cooper, 80).

Referee: Dean Moharab (Hyde).
Assistants: G. N. Darragh (Stockport) and S. Mather (Droylsden).

1-0 Neil Grayson (14)
2-0 Neil Grayson (27)
2-1 Peter Duffield (63)
3-1 Robin Gibson (90+2)

Stafford: Robin Gibson (YC, 59), Danny Edwards (YC, 75)
Alfreton: Richard Cooper (YC, 59)

Leek Town 0 Stafford Rangers 2

Wednesday 27th April 2005
Leek Town 0 Stafford Rangers 2
Staffordshire Senior Cup Final
At: Vale Park
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Programme: ???
Attendance: 941
Weather: mild, dry
Duration: first-half: 47:15; second-half: 51:45

The Staffordshire Senior Cup is back at Marston Road!

Having lost the final to Kidsgrove Athletic 12 months ago, Stafford Rangers made no mistake this time round with a comfortable victory over Leek Town. Chris Smith put them ahead in the 36th minute and veteran Neil Grayson added a second goal soon after the restart.

Phil Robinson made four changes to the side that lost at Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday. Recalled were Will Smith, Dennis Pearce, Craig Lovatt and Robin Gibson in place of Joe Anyon (cup-tied), Alan Dodd, Alex Gibson and Richie Beale.

Stafford got the game underway attacking the Signal Stand in the first half.

Leek from the Unibond League Premier Division caused plenty of early problems. Will Smith was forced to make a fine diving save to turn round at low shot from Richie Sutton at the expense of a corner.

But once Stafford settled they started to enjoy plenty of possession. Chris Smith headed over and unmarked Grayson fired over from just eight yards out.

Eventually, Stafford turned their dominance into a goal scored in the 36th minute. Chris Smith powerfully headed Robin Gibson’s cross for his second goal in three games.

Nathan Talbott could have quickly extended the lead. Found in acres of space on the right he fired in a low shot that Leek keeper Mark Cartwright, who played several pre-season games for Stafford, blocked at his near post.

Rangers needed a second goal and it came a minute after the restart. Grayson picked up the ball in midfield, beat several defenders on a run into the area and fired an unstoppable shot past Cartwright.

Leek threw on a couple of subs including former Stafford trialist Dean Crowe but there was no stopping Rangers lifting the Cup for the second time in three years.

Late on, both Edwards and Talbott could have further extended the lead with shots that narrowly missed the target.

Speaking after the game, Phil Robinson said: “It was a good win. Leek started off quite brightly but as the first half went on we started to dominate the play and overpower them. I thought we were well worth our lead at half time and we talked about starting well. Neil (Grayson) promised everyone in the dressing room it would be better in the second half.

“Leek had the ball at times but didn’t really hurt us. We saw the game out and we are really delighted to regain the trophy we lost in the final last season. I’m very pleased to win two finals out of three on the trot”.

Leek Town (yellow/blue/yellow): 1. Mark Cartwright, 2. Adam Yates, 3. Ashley Wooliscroft (capt), 4. Mick Heathcote, 5. Matt Haddrell, 6. Rob Hawthorn, 7. Ritchie Sutton, 8. David McPherson, 9. David Whittaker, 10. Dean Butterworth, 11. Alex Brown. Subs: 12. Dean Crowe (for Butterworth, 63), 14. Jordan Johnson (not used), 15. Philip Hadland (for Heathcote, 50), 16. Adam Sheldon (not used), 17. James Hall (not used).

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Will Smith, 2. Craig McAughtrie, 3. Dennis Pearce, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Craig Lovatt, 7. Nathan Talbott, 8. Lee Downes, 9. Neil Grayson, 10. Danny Edwards, 11. Robin Gibson. Subs: 12. Craig Wilding (for Pearce, 90+2), 14. Alan Dodd (not used), 15. Richard Beale, 16. Robert Heath (for Downes, 71), 17. Gary Fife (not used).

Referee: Carl Dunn (Stoke-on-Trent).
Assistants: E. P. Preece and K. Shuck.
Fourth Official: O. D. Langford

0-1 Chris Smith (36)
0-2 Neil Grayson (47)

Leek: Alex Brown (YC, 35), Dean Crowe (YC, 85), Ritchie Sutton (YC, 90+6)
Stafford: Craig Lovatt (YC, 32), Chris Smith (YC, 73)

Stalybridge Celtic 1 Stafford Rangers 0

Saturday 23rd April 2005
Stalybridge Celtic 1 Stafford Rangers 0
Nationwide North
At: Bower Fold
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Programme: ???
Attendance: 602
Weather: warm and sunny
Duration: first-half: 46:43; second-half: 48:20

Having created several chances in what was a good hard-working first-half performance, Stafford Rangers went down at third-from-bottom Stalybridge to a goal within seven minutes after the restart.

As has been the case on too many occasions this season, Stafford manager Phil Robinson was unable to field his first-choice starting line-up. Missing were the likes of Craig Wilding (injured), Craig Lovatt (not fit to start) and Robin Gibson (suspended) so Alex Gibson and Richie Beale were recalled with skipper Wayne Daniel again up front.

There was some welcome news, however, for the player-boss as Neil Grayson returned from injury and played the first 68 minutes before being replaced by Gary Fife.

Rangers made a bright start and Daniel saw a shot cleared off the line after just six minutes. Nathan Talbott, named Man-of-the-Match by the Celtic sponsors, also forced Craig Dootson into an excellent near-post save.

Chances were created at regular intervals at both ends and Stalybridge twice went close midway through the first half. Joe Anyon kept out Andy Parton’s shot with his boot before the woodwork came to Stafford’s rescue when Steve Smith fired against the bar.

Grayson saw one shot saved by the diving Dootson and another drift wide as Rangers kept the home side under pressure. And after Anyon made another good save, this time from Aaron Wilford, Rangers mounted a strong finish to the half.

Alex Gibson drove across the face of goal and Lee Downes beat Dootson, only to see his angle shot shave the outside of the left-hand post. In injury time, Danny Edwards curled a free kick just wide.

Needing a win to aid their fight against relegation, Stalybridge took the lead in the 52nd minute. Wilford set up Nathan Wharton who hammered a shot past Anyon.

The young Rangers keeper had no chance with that effort but produced a superb one-handed reaction save mid to deny Steve Smith a certain goal.

Robinson used the latter stages to bring on three young squad members and one of them, Richie Miller, almost capped an encouraging debut with a goal. Rising at the far post in the 86th minute, the young forward leapt to meet Edwards’ deep cross and sent a downward header inches wide.

Speaking after the game, Stafford manager Phil Robinson said: “In the first half we created a number of opportunities that should have been finished off and every time we miss a chance it put pressure on the defence. The game gave us an opportunity to some of our younger player and it was great to see Richie Miller and Alex Gibbons on the pitch. Richie was unlucky not to score with a header. We also took an opportunity to rest a few to ensure that everyone is fresh for Wednesday night”.

Stalybridge Celtic (blue/blue/white): 1. Craig Dootson (capt), 2.Grant Black, 3. Tony Whealing, 4. Barrie Keeling, 5. Paul Sykes, 6. Paul Shepherd, 7. Steve Smith, 8. Scott Willis, 9. Andy Parton, 10. Aaron Wilford, 11. Nathan Wharton. Subs: 12. Andy Hayward (not used), 14. Chris Denham (not used), 15. Kevin Parr (for Steve Smith, 85), 16. Ben Smith (not used), 17. Phil Robinson (not used).

Stafford Rangers (red/red/red): 1. Joe Anyon, 2. Alex Gibson, 3. Richard Beale, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Craig McAughtrie, 6. Alan Dodd, 7. Nathan Talbott, 8. Lee Downes, 9. Wayne Daniel (capt), 10. Neil Grayson, 11. Danny Edwards. Subs: 12. Craig Lovatt (not used), 14. Richard Miller (for Gibson, 78), 15. Alex Gibbons (for Beale, 78), 16. Gary Fife (for Grayson, 69), 17gk. Will Smith (not used).

Referee: I. Smith (Rotherham).
Assistants: N. Walker and D. S. Midgeley.

1-0 Nathan Wharton (52)

Stalybridge: Aaron Wilford (YC, 66)

Moor Green 0 Stafford Rangers 1

Tuesday 19th April 2005
Moor Green 0 Stafford Rangers 1
Nationwide North
At: Damson Park, Solihull Borough FC
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Programme: ???
Attendance: 300
Weather: cloudy, dry after pre-match rain
Duration: first-half: 50:42; second-half: 46:39

Stafford Rangers bounced back from Saturday’s heavy defeat with a well-deserved victory against old rivals Moor Green. And it was central defender Chris Smith who scored the vital winner at the end of the first half, his first goal for the club.

With striker Neil Grayson still missing through injury, skipper Wayne Daniel led the attack with Alan Dodd and Dennis Pearce recalled into a reorganised side for Rob Heath and Jamie Phoenix. Phil Robinson was forced to make another change just before the half-hour mark when Gary Fife replaced the injured Craig Wilding. Moor Green included three former Stafford players – Ben Petty, Darren Middleton and unused substitute David Foy.

Stafford got the game underway attacking the ‘covered end’ in the first half.

Neither goalkeeper was troubled until Adam Rachel came off his line to block a shot from Nathan Talbott. The Moor Green goalkeeper also saved bravely at the feet of Craig Wilding, a collision that eventually forced the Rangers striker out of the game.

The impressive Talbott sent a shot flashing past the right-hand post before Middleton wasted a great chance to put his side in front. He blasted over the bar with just Joe Anyon to beat.

In a match played at Solihull Borough’s Damson Park, Rangers broke the deadlock in first half injury time. Fife won the ball on half way before finding Danny Edwards inside the area who saw a shot deflected wide. Edwards delivered the resulting corner and Smith fired home at close range.

Just before the interval, Craig McAughtrie cleared off the line from Petty and Neil Davis fired the loose ball inches over.

Stafford rarely looked like losing their lead in the second half and, perhaps, should have extended their lead. Craig Lovatt should have buried a Talbott cross but kicked ‘thin air’ in front of goal. And Rachel made a fine one-handed diving save from Talbott and also tipped over a Fife volley to keep his side in with a chance.

Near the end, Daniel chased the ball down the left and pulled it back for Lee Downes to drive inches wide.

Moor Green (navy blue / navy blue / navy blue): 1. Adam Rachel (capt), 2. Phillip Midworth, 3. Richard Follett, 4. Lee Collins, 5. Guy Sanders, 6. Ben Petty, 7. Peter Faulds, 8. Darren Middleton, 9. Neil Davis, 10. David Bridgwater, 11. Phil Trainer. Subs: 12. Jae Martin (for Petty, 76), 14. Sean Canham (for Davis, 76), 15. Mark Owen (for Middleton, 69), 16. David Foy (not used), 17. Junior English (not used).

Stafford Rangers (red/red/red): 1. Joe Anyon, 2. Alan Dodd, 3. Dennis Pearce, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Craig McAughtrie, 6. Craig Lovatt, 7. Nathan Talbott, 8. Lee Downes, 9. Wayne Daniel (capt), 10. Craig Wilding, 11. Danny Edwards. Subs: 12. Richard Miller (not used), 14. Alex Gibbons (not used), 15. Alex Gibson (not used), 16. Richard Beale (not used), 17. Gary Fife (for Wilding, 29).

Referee: P. A. Caswell (Leicester)
Assistants: ???

0-1 Chris Smith (47)

Moor Green: none
Stafford: Wayne Daniel (YC, 40), Chris Smith (YC, 50), Nathan Talbott (YC, 90+1)

Droylsden 4 Stafford Rangers 0

Saturday 16th April 2005
Droylsden 4 Stafford Rangers 0
Nationwide North
At: Butcher's Arms Ground
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Programme: ???
Attendance: 642
Weather: cold, cloudy, dry
Duration: first-half: 47:13; second-half: 48:11

With their play-off hopes over, Stafford Rangers with the tightest Conference North defence conceded four goals for only the second time this season as title favourites Droylsden recorded their tenth consecutive win.

Looking at the pre-match league table, Stafford (with 33 points from 38 games) stood in 10th position in the table, while second-placed Droylsden (73 points from 38 games) trailed leaders Southport by just two points with a game in hand.

After more than matching the in-form home side, Stafford Rangers were hit three times in the space of 15 minutes towards the end of the first half. Droylsden quickly added a fourth goal after the restart before easing off.

Droylsden signalled their intensions after 11 seconds when Jodie Banim saw a shot from the edge of the area well saved by the diving Joe Anyon.

After surviving that early scare, Stafford started to cause problems for the nervous home side and, with a bit of luck, could have taken the lead. Craig Wilding sent a free header straight at Bloods’ goalkeeper Paul Phillips from an accurate Danny Edwards cross.

Edwards sent a low shot inches wide before Jamie Phoenix, in for the suspended Robin Gibson, tried his luck from fully 30 yards out. His lob beat Phillips but agonisingly rebounded off the bar.

However, an uncharacteristic slip from the reliable Chris Smith turned the game in favour of Droylsden. He allowed former Shrewsbury striker Jodie Banim to drill a low shot across the face of goal and into the opposite bottom left corner for his 24th goal of the season.

Craig McAughtrie cleared off the line from Robbie Talbot before it got worse for Stafford in the 35th minute. Craig Lovatt fouled Talbot on the edge of the area and Gareth Morris curled the resulting free-kick home via the underside of the bar.

Droylsden before totally dominant and it was no surprise when they added a third goal before the interval – again from a free-kick. Danny Warner sent the ball high into the Rangers area from half-way where it skimmed the top of Wayne Daniel’s head before entering the net for an own goal.

In first-half injury time, Dave Cameron saw a shot kept out by Anyon and, from the rebound, Banim was denied another goal by a magnificent block by Daniel.

The dangerous Banim sent a 45-yard lob inches over before Rangers were undone again in the 53rd minute from yet another set piece. Morris’ free-kick from wide on the right was headed home at the far post by defender Steve Halford.

With the game won, Droylsden replaced Banim, Talbot and Cameron, and became content to keep possession.

The Rangers attack, lacking the injured Neil Grayson, made little progress against the Bloods’ well-organised defence. However, just after the hour mark Lovatt saw a good effort kept out by a one-handed save from Phillips.

Late in the game, Rangers, who gave a debut to substitute Alex Gibbons, had the ball in the back of the Droylsden net. But, the own goal ‘scored’ by Warner was disallowed for a foul by Daniel on Phillips.

Droylsden (red/black/black): 1. Paul Phillips, 2. Neil Hall, 3. Danny Warner, 4. Steve Halford, 5. Craig Robinson, 6. Gareth Morris, 7. Ged Murphy, 8. Steve Brodie, 9. David Cameron, 10. Jodie Banim, 11. Robbie Talbot. Subs: 12. Ian Fitzpatrick (for Banim, 58), 14. Andy Lee (for Talbot, 58), 15. Peter Dogun (not used), 16. Kevin Rapley (for Cameron, 65), 17. Stuart Howson (not used).

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / silver / red): 1. Joe Anyon, 2. Craig McAughtrie, 3. Robert Heath, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Craig Lovatt, 7. Nathan Talbott, 8. Lee Downes, 9. Craig Wilding, 10. Danny Edwards, 11. Jamie Phoenix. Subs: 12. Richard Beale (not used), 14. Alan Dodd (not used), 15. Dennis Pearce (for Phoenix, 67), 16. Gary Fife (not used), 17. Alex Gibbons (for Heath, 76).

Referee: T. Conway (Preston).
Assistants: ???

1-0 Jody Banim (29)
2-0 Gareth Morris (35)
3-0 Wayne Daniel (44 og)
4-0 Gareth Morris (53)

Droylsden: none
Stafford: Lee Downes (YC, 35), Craig McAughtrie (73)

Stafford Rangers 0 Worcester City 0

Saturday 9th April 2005
Stafford Rangers 0 Worcester City 0
Nationwide North
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Programme: ???
Attendance: 820
Weather: sunny spells, cold
Duration: first-half: 45:16; second-half: 47:37

In form Worcester City’s playoff hopes suffered a blow as they were held to a goalless draw at Stafford Rangers, who recorded their 15th Conference North clean sheet of the season.

Stafford got the game underway attacking the Town End in the first half.

Visiting goalkeeper Danny McDonnell twice kept his side level inside the opening five minutes. He turned a close-range header from Chris Smith round and also tipped over Danny Edwards’ curling free-kick.

However, the first half, in which Worcester enjoyed plenty of possession, produced few serious chances. The home side went close again in the 20th minute when Robin Gibson drilled a low shot wide of the left-hand post.

Both sides came out in a positive mood at the start of the second half. Adam Webster fired straight at Stafford’s debutant goalkeeper Joe Anyon and the same player was also denied a clear shot on goal by Craig McAughtrie’s brave tackle inside the area.

Stafford almost broke the deadlock on 55 minutes. Gibson found Rob Heath with a quickly-taken free-kick and the resultant lob was superbly palmed away by McDonnell. As the home side started to dominate, Edwards crossed into the area and Gibson headed wide.

Rangers should have taken the lead just past the hour mark. Again from an Edwards cross, Craig Lovatt sent a free header wide of the target. Craig Wilding, recalled in place of the injured Neil Grayson, also fired inches wide from the edge of the area.

Forced to defend for long periods, Worcester could only attack on the break and a mistake by Anyon almost gifted them a goal. Deceived by a bouncing ball from Jai Stanley hit down the middle, the teenager did well to recover and claim the ball under pressure on his line.

In injury time, Worcester were reduced to ten men when defender Paul Carty was dismissed for a second bookable-offence.

Chris Smith was named Man of the Match.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Joe Anyon, 2. Craig McAughtrie, 3. Robert Heath, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Craig Lovatt, 7. Nathan Talbott, 8. Lee Downes, 9. Craig Wilding, 10. Danny Edwards, 11. Robin Gibson. Subs: 12. Alex Gibson (not used), 14. Richard Beale (not used), 15. Alan Dodd (not used), 16. Richard Miller (not used), 17. Dennis Pearce (not used).

Worcester City (blue/blue/blue): 1. Danny McDonnell, 2. Rob Warner, 3. Les Hines, 4. Paul Carty, 5. Barry Woolley, 6. Carl Heeley (capt), 7. George Clegg, 8. Nic Colley, 9. Leon Kelly, 10. Adam Webster, 11. Jai Stanley. Subs: 12. Andy Preece (for Colley, 84), 14. John Snape (not used), 15. Tom Warmer (for Stanley, 88), 16. James Smith (not used), 17. Liam McDonald (not used).

Referee: A Taylor (Wythenshawe).
Assistants: P. L. Anderson (Manchester) and R. Bromfield (Rochdale).

Goals: none

Stafford: none
Worcester: Paul Carty (YC, 65), Barry Woolley (YC, 80), Paul Carty (YC, 90+1)