Nuneaton Borough 1 Stafford Rangers 1

Saturday 28th January 2011
Nuneaton Borough 1 Stafford Rangers 1
Nationwide North
At: Manor Park
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 2183
Weather: sunny

Former Stafford Rangers goalkeeper Richard Brush, making his Nuneaton debut, pulled off two great first-half saves to arguably prevent his old side taking all three points from this top of the table clash.

After second-placed Nuneaton had taken an early lead, the 21-year-old, who made three Rangers appearances back in September, twice denied veteran Neil Grayson – including a marvellous penalty save.

Eventually, Stafford levelled on 71 minutes through Paul Groves.

With Grayson passing a fitness test and skipper Wayne Daniel returning from suspension, Phil Robinson selected a full-strength side.

Unbeaten at home for 13 months, Nuneaton decided to bombard the Stafford defence from the word go and went ahead after just four minutes. A vicious inswinging corner from Michael Love fell inside the six-yard box and Jason Taylor sidefooted home.

The home side kept up the pressure and, on 22 minutes, they won four corners in quick succession. From the second, Dean Williams tipped over a header from Terry Angus.

But Stafford are not top for nothing and they battled back into a dominant position before half time.

And as the interval approach, Brush, who has also featured for Hednesford Town this season, emerged his side’s hero. On 34 minutes, he turned round a header from Grayson, who hit the bar from the resulting corner. Two minutes later, Robin Gibson was brought down in the area, only for Brush to push away Grayson’s penalty.

Things got heated just before half-time as Grayson, Craig Lovatt and Gez Murphy were all booked – three of seven players to see yellow but this was a competitive rather than dirty game. FA Cup hero Murphy was lucky to stay on the field for comments made to the referee.

Though Rangers were on top during the second half, Nuneaton almost caught Rangers napping soon after the restart. Robert Oddy found space on the right and got in a low angle shot which the diving Williams pushed away to safety.

The bulk of the chances were created by Robinson’s side and tightly marked Gibson couldn’t direct a shot on target after being found by Nathan Smith’s deep cross. Smith also fired tamely at Brush from Groves’ knock down.

The introduction of Peter Thomson for Levi Reid provided an extra forward and fresh target man to relieve 41-year-old Grayson who had taken plenty of punishment in his titanic battle with experienced 39-year-old defender Angus.

Stafford got their deserved equaliser on 71 minutes. Thomson has a shot blocked inside a crowded area and Groves hammered home the rebound.

Late in the game, both Kevin Street and Thomson both fired wide, and Brush gathered up another shot from Grayson, as Stafford tried so hard to win the game right until the final whistle.

With both third-placed Northwich and Harrogate, in fourth, having to settle for a point as well, everything remained unchanged at the top with Stafford maintaining their six-point lead.

Nuneaton Borough (blue/white/blue): Richard Brush, Robert Oddy, Michael Love, Gary Fitzpatrick, Neil Moore (capt), Terry Angus, Ian Foster, Michael Noon, Brian Quailey, Gez Murphy, Jason Taylor. Subs: Michael Frew, Kevin Wilkin, Simon Rea, James Holmes (all not used).

Stafford Rangers (red/red/red): Dean Williams, Paul Groves, Nathan Talbott, Craig McAughtrie, Wayne Daniel (capt), Craig Lovatt, Levi Reid, Kevin Street, Neil Grayson, Nathan Smith, Robin Gibson. Subs: Lee Downes, Dave Walker (for Smith, 86), Peter Thomson (for Reid, 57), Matt Clarke, Liam Murray.

Referee: M. C. Dexter (Leicester).

1-0 Jason Taylor (4)
2-0 Paul Groves (71)

Sponsors’ Man of the Match: Michael Noon.
Non-League Paper Star Man: Richard Brush.

Stafford Rangers 1 Tamworth 0

Thursday 26th January 2006
Stafford Rangers 1 Tamworth 0
Staffs Senior Cup quarter final
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 372
Weather: -

Eight players were given a first-team debut but that didn’t stop a young Rangers side progressing into the semi finals with a single goal victory over Tamworth. The winner was scored three minutes after the restart. Phoenix skilfully got to the left bye-line and pulled the ball back for Edwards to slot home from 6 yards out. On 86 minutes Ridgway cleared a shot from Francis off the line. Then in injury time inside the Rangers area, Gibson cleared Jimmy Turner’s shot off the line to sent the young Rangers side through and prevent a penalty shoot out. Stafford face Stoke City at Marston Road in the semi-final for the right to play either Rushall or Chasetown in the Final.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Lewis Solly, 2. Dan Holgate, 3. Alex Gibson, 4. Phil Robinson, 5. Jemiah Richards, 6. Ed Booth, 7. Andre Francis, 8. Lee Downes (capt), 9. Jamie Phoenix, 10. Danny Edwards, 11. Alex Gibbons. Subs: 12. Richard Haynes (for Edwards, 72), 14. Richard Miller (not used), 15. Ross Clarke (not used), 16. Josh Robinson (for Downes, 80), 17. Matt Skinner (for Phil Robinson, 62).

Tamworth (red/red/red): Mark Gayle, Jimmy Turner (capt), Shaun Booth, Tom Brady, Shaun Ridgway, Alan Neilson, Chris Bushall, Mark Cooper, Scott Rickards, Richard Dryden, Nick Green. Subs: Tom Fallon (for Green, 81), Chris Evans (for Brady, 69), Jamie Lake (for Neilson, ht).

Goal: Edwards (48)

Press Box Man of the Match: Andre Francis.

Referee: C. D. Sarginson (Rugeley).

Stafford Rangers 1 Hyde United 0

Saturday 21st January
Stafford Rangers 1 Hyde United 0
Nationwide North
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 935
Weather: -

Stafford Rangers extended their advantage at the top to six points with a hard-fought victory over in-form Hyde United. Striker Nathan Smith produced a moment of brilliance and a great finish to score what proved to be the winner just before the half hour mark. But Rangers had goalkeeper Dean Williams to thank for a string of second-half saves. The winner came on 27 minutes. Smith picked up the ball on the edge of the area and flicked it past Mike Flynn before firing low into the bottom-right corner. In injury time, Stafford’s Craig McAughtrie and Hyde’s Nathan Wharton were both dismissed for their part in a melee that flared up following the sending off of visiting defender Lincoln Adams. The incident started when Adams kicked the spare match ball being held by Rangers kit man Simon Davies.

Stafford Rangers: Dean Williams, Paul Groves, Nathan Talbott, Craig McAughtrie, Liam Murray, Craig Lovatt, Levi Reid, Kevin Street (capt), Neil Grayson, Nathan Smith, Robin Gibson. Subs: Lee Downes, Dave Walker (for Smith, 83), Peter Thomson (for Gibson, 67), Matt Clarke (for Grayson, 79), Phil Robinson.

Hyde United: Jean Paul Ndjebayi, Lincoln Adams, Chris Lynch, Paul Jones, Mike Flynn (capt), Nathan Wharton, Wayne Dean, Gerry Harrison, Nicky Clee, Dale Johnson, Matty McNeil. Subs: Nicky Hill, Paul Armstrong, Neil Tolson (for Dean, 87), Steve Brackenridge, Mark Westhead.

Goal: Smith (27).

Sent Off: McAughtrie, Wharton, Adams (all 90)

Sponsors’ Man of the Match: Dean Williams.
Non-League Paper Star Man: Dean Williams.

Referee: Glyn Mellor (Derby).
Attendance: 935.

Stafford Rangers 1 Morecambe 0

Saturday 14th January 2006
Stafford Rangers 1 Morecambe 0
FA Carlsberg Trophy Second Round
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 1121

Nationwide North leaders Stafford Rangers enhanced their growing reputation with a deserved victory over Morecambe, fifth in the Conference National.

One goal always looked likely to decide this tight, but none-the-less absorbing game, and it was fitting that Kevin Street, outstanding all afternoon on a heavy pitch, scored the winner after 77 minutes.

Going into the game with a run of nine league and cup games without defeat, Stafford took the attack to Morecambe from the start. Neil Grayson twice headed wide and on 13 minutes defender Craig McAughtrie a headed goal disallowed for offside.

The visitors got more into the game and Ged Brannan hammered a 25-yard first-time shot over the bar.

On the half-hour, David Perkins saw a long-range effort tipped over by Rangers goalkeeper Dean Williams and, from the corner, Chris Blackburn headed over the bar.

Just before the interval, defender Liam Murray, deputising from the suspended Wayne Daniel, had a shot blocked by Chris Blackburn.

Stafford started the second half looking to win the game and Smith sent a first-time volley over the visitors’ bar.

There was a scare for the home side just before the hour mark when last defender McAughtrie was penalised for a foul on Danny Carlton just outside the area. Both players appeared to accidentally collide and, sensibly, the referee produced just a yellow card.

On 74 minutes, Stafford were awarded a free-kick which McAughtrie blasted through the wall. However, Drench made an excellent diving save.

Eventually the deadlock was broken three minutes later. Inside a populated area, Morecambe had several opportunities to clear before Street confidently drove home at close range. Drench got his hands to the ball but there was too much power in the shot.

Late in the game, Stafford almost scored a second goal. Drench could only parry a shot from Levi Reid but Robin Gibson couldn’t direct a follow-up effort on target from the rebound.

There was time for one last push from Morecambe. Curtis took the ball forward and sent a drive flashing past the post.

Stafford Rangers: Williams, Groves, Talbott, McAughtrie, Murray, Lovatt, Reid, Street, Grayson, Smith, R. Gibson. Subs: Downes, Walker (for Smith, 69), A. Gibson, Edwards, Robinson.

Morecame: Drench, Blackburn, Kempson, Bentley, Howard, Thompson, Brannan, Perkins, Curtis, Twiss, Carlton. Subs: Kelly, Davies, Lloyd (for Thompson, 71), Walmsley, Hardiker.

Referee: I. Smedley (Derby).
Attendance: 1,121.

Hucknall Town 0 Stafford Rangers 2

Saturday 7th January
Hucknall Town 0 Stafford Rangers 2
Nationwide North
At: Watnall Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 601

Promotion-chasing Stafford Rangers opened up a three-point lead at the top of the Nationwide North table with a comfortable victory at fifth-placed Hucknall Town.

Both goals came in the second half through Neil Grayson and Kevin Street after Nathan Smith came off the bench to influence the outcome of this vital game.

Player-manager Phil Robinson opted to rest Smith, who had been carrying an injury, and partnered Robin Gibson with Neil Grayson in attack. Liam Murray and Paul Groves came into the side with Matt Clarke being the other player dropping to the bench.

Rangers signalled their intentions to dominate for the start perhaps should have been at least a goal ahead at the interval.

Murray had an early shot blocked by a defender. Groves also headed over at close range and Gibson fired wide.

On 20 minutes, Grayson sent Gibson clear who was denied by a fine bear-post save by former teammate James Lindley now playing for the Nottinghamshire side.

As half time approached, Grayson should have given Stafford the lead. He got clear down the left but fired into the sidenetting with just Lindley to beat.

Hucknall’s best chances of the entire game came just before the interval. Mark Ward shot wide from the edge of the area and Chris Timons, who briefly played for Stafford during the 1994/95 season, glanced a header wide.

The introduction of Smith provided the spark that led to Stafford taking all three points. Within a couple of minutes of replacing Murray, the young forward twice forced Lindley to tip over wells-truck rising shots.

Craig McAughtrie also went close when he had a shot cleared off the line by Chris Beech after Hucknall failed to deal with a corner from Kevin Street.

It was not long after Hucknall brought on their leading scorer that Stafford took the lead. Smith picked up the ball on the left from Street and crossed low from the left for Grayson to fire home at close range.

Stafford continued to press forward and Levi Reid saw a shot from well outside the area deflect off Timons for a corner. Skipper Wayne Daniel also headed against the Hucknall bar.

Eventually it was no surprise when the league leaders scored the second goal on 84 minutes, which ended any slim hopes Hucknall had of snatching an undeserved point. Smith was again involved and his pass was curled past the diving Lindley by Street from the edge of the area.

Hucknall Town: Lindley, Asher, Beech, Rowland, Timons, Sucharewycz, Morris (Gill, 67), Cooke, Ricketts, Ward (Nangle, 82), Nelthorpe. Unused subs: Paul Robinson, T. Groves, Carter.

Stafford Rangers: Williams, P. Groves, Talbott, McAughtrie, Daniel, Lovatt, Reid, Street (Clarke, 85), Grayson, R. Gibson, Murray (Smith, 56). Unused subs: Walker, Edwards, Phil Robinson.

Referee: M. A. Taylor (Sheffield).
Attendance: 601.

Stafford Rangers Res 0 AFC Telford Utd Res 1

Wednesday 4th January 2006
Stafford Rangers Reserves 0 AFC Telford United Reserves 1
Central Conference Cup
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Teamsheet: free (A4)
Weather: cold, dry
Attendance: 54
Duration: first-half: 49:14; second-half: 48:18

AFC Telford United won this reserve-team derby with a late goal scored in the 83rd minute. A throughball from Kyle Perry down the inside left channel put Glynn Evans clear and he shot low past the advancing goalkeeper into the bottom right-corner from 15 yards out.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Craig Johnson, 2. Alex Gibson, 3. Matt Skinner, 4. Alex Gibbons, 5. Ed Booth, 6. Liam Murray (capt), 7. Phil Robinson, 8. Andre Francis, 9. Danny Davidson, 10. Dave Walker, 11. Danny Edwards. Subs: 12. Jamie Phoenix, 14. Richard Miller, 15. Ross Clarke, 16. Richard Haynes, 17gk. Matt Sargeant.

AFC Telford United (red/white/red): 1. Danien Stephens, 2. Dave Andrewsrtha, 3. Tom Griffin, 4. Nei lPrescott (capt), 5. Adam Holtham, 6. Sean Parrish, 7. James Fox, 8. Bruce Wheeler, 9. Kyle Perry, 10. Craig Ryan, 11. Damen Hamilton. Subs: 12. Michael Sheridan, 14. Matthew Ball, 15. Glynn Evans, 16. Aaron White, 17. Liam Turner.

Referee: Terry Holbrook.
Assistants: Glyn Thomas and Mick Davies

Worcester City 1 Stafford Rangers 1

Monday 2nd January 2006
Worcester City 1 Stafford Rangers 1
Nationwide North
At: St George's Lane
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Programme: £2 (32 pages)
Weather: bright, dry, mild
Attendance: 1228
Duration: first-half: 45:30; second-half: 46:50

Stafford Rangers extended their unbeaten run to eight league and cup games with a hard-earned draw at St George’s Lane. Even though they have a lowly league position, Worcester made Rangers fight all afternoon just as they did on Boxing Day when the teams drew by the same scoreline at Marston Road. This point, together with second-placed Nuneaton Borough’s surprise draw at Hednesford, ensures Stafford maintain their slender advantage at the top of the Nationwide North table on goal difference.

With Peter Thomson and Lee Downes still missing through injury, there was no surprise with team selection as Phil Robinson named an unchanged side.

Stafford got the game underway defending the canal end in the first half, right to left in relation my press box seat in the main stand.

Neither keeper had been called into serious action before Stafford took the lead in the 15th minute. Shortly after being harshly booked for diving, Robin Gibson delivered a corner, which was cleared back out to the right. The winger returned the ball to the danger area where Neil Grayson slipped it through to Craig McAughtrie who hammered home from 6 yards out.

Nathan Smith forced a save out of City keeper Danny McDonnell and Grayson drilled a shot wide before the home side almost equalised on the half hour mark. The dangerous Leon Kelly headed against the Stafford bar.

As the interval approached, Gibson and Kevin Street combined to create a chance for Smith. The young striker got in a low shot which McDonnell gathered bravely at the feet of Craig Lovatt who got forward to take advantage of any fumble.

Worcester went on the attack at the start of the second half and got back on level terms in the 48th minute. From Rob Warner’s corner, Justin Thompson played the ball towards goal and Adam Webster applied the final touch.

The home side kept up the pressure for long periods of the second half. Webster fired straight at Dean Williams and also sent a couple of other shots just wide of the target.

Despite having to resolutely defend, Stafford were still able to cause problems. Levi Reid forced a flying save out of McDonnell to hold on to a serving 30-yard drive.

Rangers went even closer in the 78th minute. Lovatt, outstanding in midfield, latched onto a long clearance and got in an initial shot which was blocked by a defender. He got a second chance but Les Hines agonisingly cleared the follow-up shot off the line.

Late in the game, Kelly fired across the face of goal and saw a rising shot held by Williams but there was no denying Stafford a vital point.

Worcester City (blue and white stripes / blue / white): 1. Danny McDonnell, 2. Rob Warner, 3. Les Hines, 4. Danny Hodnett, 5. Justin Thompson, 6. Des Lyttle (capt), 7. Tom Warmer, 8. Sam Wedgbury, 9. Leon Kelly, 10. Adam Webster, 11. George Clegg. Subs: 12. Gary Walker (not used), 14. Troy Wood (not used), 15. Graham Hyde (not used), 16. Nic Colley (not used), 17. Shabir Khan (not used).

Stafford Rangers (red/red/red): 1. Dean Williams, 2. Matt Clarke, 3. Nathan Talbott, 4. Craig McAughtrie, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Craig Lovatt, 7. Levi Reid, 8. Kevin Street, 9. Neil Grayson, 10. Nathan Smith, 11. Robin Gibson. Subs: 12. Dave Walker (for Street, 70), 14. Paul Groves (not used), 15. Liam Murray (not used), 16. Danny Edwards (for Smith, 79), 17. Phil Robinson (not used).

Referee: Neil Hancox (Walsall Wood).
Assistants: Roger Firmstone (Oswestry) and Carl Griffiths (Gobowen).

0-1 Craig McAughtrie (15)
1-1 Adam Webster (48)

Worcester: Tom Warmer (YC, 64), Leon Kelly (89)
Stafford: Robin Gibson (YC, 13)