Redditch United 0 Stafford Rangers 1

Saturday 11th February 2006
Redditch United 0 Stafford Rangers 1
Nationwide North
At: Valley Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 546

Stafford Rangers extended their lead at the top of the Nationwide North table with a narrow victory at lowly Redditch United. Neil Grayson scored the winner after 20 minutes of a dour game with few clear-cut chances.

Before kick-off, Phil Robinson faced a selection dilemma but decided to bring Levi Reid back into the side in place of Liam Murray who did well in the previous game with Forest Green Rovers.

Redditch created a couple of early chances and Dean Williams got down to hold onto a well struck free-kick from recent signing Damon Whitcombe, one of Chasetown’s FA Cup heroes.

Stafford could have taken the lead on 16 minutes. Peter Thomson fed Robin Gibson on the right who delivered a cross into the area. Craig Lovatt had sprinted forward and saw his shot turned round by Redditch ’keeper Richard Anstiss.

However, the large number of travelling fans had to wait just four more minutes before Rangers scored what proved the winner thanks to poor marking. Gibson did well to head back a deep cross from Craig McAughtrie and unchallenged Grayson headed home from in front of goal.

Stafford kept things tight at the back with former teammate Craig Wilding proving a handful for McAughtrie and skipper Wayne Daniel.

McAughtrie should have put the result beyond the reach of the home side a minute after the restart. Thomson flicked on Kevin Street’s free-kick but the big defender sent a free header over the bar.

The home side almost made Rangers pay as the diving Williams did well to punch away another well-struck free-kick from Whitcombe that looked to be heading for the net.

Grayson also fired wide on two occasions but, during the second half, Rangers were forced to work hard. Substitute Nathan Smith forced Anstiss to push away a low shot at his near post.

Late in the game, Smith lost possession inside the Redditch area and allowed Michael McGrath to break upfield. The ball ended up with Rory May whose deflected shot was, thankfully, gathered up by Williams and Rangers fans breathed a huge sight of relief.

Phil Robinson felt afterwards that the win had been earned at a difficult place to get a result. He said: “We probably didn’t play our best football but we weren’t allowed to and the conditions didn’t allow that. What we wanted to do was come here and be solid and pick up a victory, which we have done. I’m delighted with that.”

Redditch United: Anstiss, King, Whitcombe, Rea, Creighton, Field (Scheppel, 65), Hollis, Taylor (May, 74), Wilding, Doyle (McGrath, 74), Palmer. Unused subs: Vaughan, Murphy.

Stafford Rangers: Williams, Groves, Talbott, McAughtrie, Daniel, Lovatt, Reid, Street, Grayson, Thomson (Smith, 62), R. Gibson. Unused subs: Murray, Walker, Downes, Edwards.

Referee: C. Grundy (Sheffield).