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)