Leigh RMI 1 Stafford Rangers 4

Saturday 26th November 2005
Leigh RMI 1 Stafford Rangers 4
FA Carlsberg Trophy Third Qualifying Round
At: Hilton Park
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Programme: £2 (32 pages)
Attendance: 165
Weather: sunny
Duration: first-half: 47:03; second-half: 48:56

Stafford Rangers followed up last month’s 3-1 victory in the league at Hilton Park with another comfortable win by an ever greater margin over Leigh RMI. Today, they were forced to work hard during the first quarter of this FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round tie before recording what turned out to be a comfortable victory. Nathan Talbott put them ahead and also scored a late fourth goal while Dave Walker and Neil Grayson also found the net. Leigh finished the game with ten men while Stafford pocketed a cheque for £3,000 and a place in the First Round draw which will be made on Monday.

Phil Robinson opted to field Grayson and Walker as his two strikers. The usual duo of Peter Thomson and Nathan Smith had been injured and weren’t considered right to start the game. Like Walker, defender Liam Murray also came into a team which the manager felt good enough to win the tie – and his judgement was spot on.

After the game, Robinson said: “It is a fantastic result which gets us through to the next round. I thought we were a little bit slow to start in the first half but in the second half stronger and dominated the last 45 minutes. I think we were good value for the four goals over the course of the game and maybe got another couple.”

Leigh, struggling near the foot of the Conference North table, enjoyed plenty of early possession. They went close to scoring when Gareth Stoker curled a free-kick inches wide and Ian Taylor sent a dipping shot just over the bar.

Rangers, forced to work hard for the ball, took the lead against the run of play in the 22nd minute. Walker, on the left, found Craig Lovatt inside the six-yard box who should have scored instead of firing against the boot of home goalkeeper John Lamb. Lovatt picked up the loose ball and rolled it to Talbott who fired home.

However, Leigh equalised just 68 seconds later when Chris Simm sent a rising 25-yard drive thundering which Dean Williams had no chance of keeping out.

Stafford regained the lead in the 27th minute and never looked in danger of losing. From a long throw from Murray, Grayson flicked the ball down to Walker who sidefooted home his first competitive goal for the club at close range.

Robin Gibson replaced Danny Edwards just after the hour mark and his first contribution was to set up Stafford’s third goal. He delivered a low cross from the right into the six-yard box which the sliding Grayson directed into the net.

Leigh’s slim hopes of salvaging a draw were all but ended in the 78th minute. Neil Smith and Grayson were both booked for their part in a tussle involving several players inside home penalty area. Unfortunately for the Leigh defender, his second yellow card in three minutes was swiftly followed by a red one.

Talbott had never scored twice in a game but now can boast a first career brace. In the 84th minute, he latched onto a chip over the Leigh defence by Walker and fired past Lamb from 10 yards out for Stafford’s fourth goal. His performance didn’t go unnoticed by the Non-League Paper’s reporter who named him as Star Man.

Leigh RMI (red and white stripes / black / black): 1. John Lamb, 2. Tony Dunne, 3. Andy Roscoe (capt), 4. Gareth Stoker, 5. Neil Smith, 6. Steve Brockley, 7. Mark Drew, 8. Steve Smith, 9. Ben Ashmole, 10. Chris Simm, 11. Ian Taylor. Subs: 12. Lee Atherton (not used), 14. Adam Girdlestone (for Steve Smith, 79), 15. Paul Lewis (not used), 16. Steve Settle (for Drew, 65), 17. Graham Tench (not used).

Stafford Rangers (yellow/red/red): 1. Dean Williams, 2. Paul Groves, 3. Nathan Talbott, 4. Craig McAughtrie, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Liam Murray, 7. Craig Lovatt, 8. Kevin Street, 9. Neil Grayson, 10. Dave Walker, 11. Danny Edwards. Subs: 12. Alan Dodd (not used), 14. Robin Gibson (for Edwards, 62), 15. Levi Reid (for Lovatt, 90), 16. Nathan Smith (not used), Peter Thomson (not used).

Referee: D. W. Stewart (Wallasey).
Assistants: P. J. Croft (Birkenhead) and W. E. Gresty (Chester).

0-1 Nathan Talbott (23)
1-1 Chris Simm (24)
1-2 Dave Walker (27)
1-3 Neil Gryason (62)
1-4 Nathan Talbott (84)

Leigh RMI: Neil Smith (YC), Steve Smith (YC, 66), Neil Smith (YC/RC, 78)
Stafford: Robin Gibson (YC, 66), Neil Grayson (YC, 78)