Stafford Rangers 2 Hucknall Town 0

Saturday 13th August 2011
Stafford Rangers 2 Hucknall Town 0
Nationwide North
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Programme: £2 (48 pages)
Attendance: 634
Weather: Rain
Duration: first-half: 46:38; second-half: 47:30

Two goals scored in four minutes midway through the second half against a spirited Hucknall Town side gave Stafford Rangers their first opening day victory since 2001.

New signing Vill Powell converted a penalty in the 69th minute then kept a move alive that led to Neil Grayson heading home the second goal.

The visitors could have taken the lead inside the first minute. Mark Ward got a powerful free-kick on target which Stafford’s on-loan goalkeeper Joe Anyon failed to hold but the ball was scrambled clear.

Kevin Street, on his Stafford debut, fired inches over the bar though Hucknall put the home side under pressure winning three corners in quick succession. Hucknall’s new striker Robert Gill drove across the face of goal as chances continued to be created in what was a lively and sometimes frantic start.

However, Hucknall suffered a major blow when striker Gary Ricketts limped off after just 19 minutes and their reorganised forward line posed less of a threat.

Stafford gradually got on top and almost took the lead in the 25th minute. Powell got the better of Alistair Asher down the left and found Nathan Talbott inside the area who forced a near-post save out of James Lindley.

As the interval approached, Street set up Robin Gibson who beat Lindley with a clever lob only to see the ball shave the top of the bar.

Stafford dominated after the break and unmarked Grayson couldn’t quick get his head to Street’s long ball. Lee Downes also saw a low drive kept out by the diving Lindley.

Eventually Stafford turned their dominance into a goal midway through the second half. Grayson was brought down inside the area by Phil Rowland Powell buried the resulting penalty.

Powell’s determination to prevented the ball going out for a goal kick led to Stafford extending their lead in the 73rd minute. Neil Grayson gave Lindley no chance with a close-range header to convert the resulting cross delivered by Downes.

Stafford continued to press and substitute Peter Thomson was unlucky not to mark his debut with a goal. He twice drilled low shots inches wide and also narrowly missed with a header from Street’s corner.

Lively Hucknall replacement Tom Groves should have reduced the deficit when unmarked the area. But, after getting on the end of a Rowland’s cross, he sliced a shot wide.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Joe Anyon, 2. Paul Groves, 3. Nathan Talbott, 4. Craig McAughtrie, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Levi Reid, 7. Lee Downes, 8. Kevin Street, 9. Vill Powell, 10. Neil Grayson, 11. Robin Gibson. Subs: 12. Peter Thomson (for Gibson, 65), 14. Liam Murray (not used), 15. Alan Dodd (not used), 16. Dave Walker (for Powell, 90), 17. Craig Lovatt (not used).

Hucknall Town (sky blue with claret sleeves / claret / sky blue): 1. James Lindley, 2. Alistair Asher, 3. Chris Beech, 4. Phil Rowland, 5. Chris Timons (capt), 6. Russell Cooke, 7. Mark Ward, 8. Steve Palmer, 9. Gary Ricketts, 10. Robert Gill, 11. Mark Smith. Subs: 12. Chris Davies (for Ricketts, 20), 14. Tom Groves (for Davies, 69), 15. Curtis Mellars, 16. Tom Carter (for Smith, 66), 17. Eugene Francis.

Referee: P. I. Thompson (Chesterfield).
Assistants: S. R. Gerrard (Shrewsbury) and M. G. Myatt (Telford).

1-0 Vill Powell (69 pen)
2-0 Neil Grayson (72)

Sponsors’ Man of the Match: Nathan Talbott