Alfreton Town 2 Stafford Rangers 1

Saturday 11th March 2006
Alfreton Town 2 Stafford Rangers 1
Nationwide North
At: Impact Arena
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 480

By the law of averages, Stafford Rangers’ long unbeaten run in the Nationwide North had to come to an end sometime. That was the philosophical conclusion of Boro boss Phil Robinson after his side went down by the odd goal in three at lowly Alfreton Town. An own goal from skipper Wayne Daniel and a deflected shot, which cancelled out an equaliser from Paul Groves, condemned Rangers to their first league reverse since mid-November.

Rangers, who welcomed back Craig McAughtrie from suspension, enjoyed the lions share of possession in the first half and really should have turned it into a goal. After surviving an early scare when Dean Williams did well to turn round a deflected shot from Jon Stevenson, the league leaders created a number of good chances.
Neil Grayson, playing in a deeper role because of the absence of Kevin Street (rib injury), got forward to head a cross from Nathan Smith. Craig Lovatt and Levi Reid both saw shots straight at Reds’ keeper Simon Rayner.

Rayner made a superb save to turn over a close-range volley from Peter Thomson and he also did well to hold a rising fiercely-struck shot blocked inside the area as Boro kept up the attack. But Alfreton took the lead against the run of play. Daniel, attempting to head behind a right-wing cross from Mick Godber, succeeded only in directing the ball into the bottom-left corner of his own net.

Rangers got back on level terms after 56 minutes. The home defence failed to pick up Groves who ghosted in to head home a near-post free kick from Nathan Smith. Daniel cleared a header from David Robinson off the line before Rangers should have taken the lead on 70 minutes. Thomson blasted wide of an unguarded net after the diving Rayner could only parry a shot from Smith.

Stafford still looked favourites to win but it was Alfreton, in need points to aid their fight against relegation, who scored what proved the winner on 75 minutes. From a free kick, a shot from Stevenson, on the edge of the area, took a deflection and looped over Williams into the net. Once in front for a second time, the home side, who have a good record at their own Impact Arena, proved difficult to penetrate. Not even a late triple substitution in the 85th minute could prevent Boro’s 14-league-match unbeaten run coming to an end.

Alfreton Town (red/red/red): Simon Rayner, Ryan Clarke, Brooks, Robinson, Turner, Howard, Bettney, Fisher, Mick Godber, Jon Stevenson, Featherstone. Subs: Nwadike (for Fisher, 50), Mills (for Howard, 86), Duffield, Rankine, Flanaghan.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): Dean Williams, Paul Groves, Nathan Talbott, Craig McAughtrie, Wayne Daniel (capt), Craig Lovatt, Levi Reid, Nathan Smith, Neil Grayson, Peter Thomson, Robin Gibson. Subs: Liam Murray (for Thomson, 85), Matt Clarke (for Groves, 85), Dave Walker (for Smith, 85), Lee Downes, Danny Edwards.

Referee: M Foley (Sheffield).

1-0 Wayne Daniel (41 og)
1-1 Paul Groves (57)
2-1 Jon Stevenson (71)