Saturday 12th April 2008

Cambridge United 1 Stafford Rangers 2
Blue Square Premier
At: Abbey Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 3810

Steve Bull MBE celebrated his first win as Stafford Rangers came from behind with goals from Neil Grayson and Nathan Smith to beat promotion-chasing Cambridge United.

The home side, who began and ended the day in third position, took the lead in the 7th minute courtesy of a low 30-yard drive from Ben Farrell. Grayson levelled things up within three minutes and Smith netted what proved to be the winner in the 63rd minute. Rangers resolutely defended the lead with Cambridge hitting the woodwork in stoppage time.

Bull made three changes with Damion Jarrett, Ross Draper and Smith coming into the starting line-up.

Stafford elected to attack the North Terrace end at the Abbey Stadium, housing the home fans. Cambridge kicked-off proceedings.

There was early danger for Stafford. Courtney Pitt crossed from the left to Lee Boylan who failed to make proper contact with the ball in front of goal.

Cambridge, however, took the lead in their next attack. Paul Carden set up Farrell who sent a low 30-yard drive into the bottom left corner out of the reach of Danny Alcock.

Rangers quickly responded with an equaliser in the 9th minute. Jarrett found Draper who took the ball into the Cambridge area. Draper squared the ball to the far post when unmarked Grayson slotted home his 12th goal of the season.

Alcock left his line to clear a throughball from Rob Wolleaston but the ball fell to Pitt who fired wide of the right-hand post from outside the area.

The Stafford keeper produced a god save to dive to his right and hold Michael Morrison's downward header from a right-wing corner delivered by Wolleaston.

Rangers had a couple of opportunities around the midpoint of the first half. Samy Mawene sent a 25-yard free-kick over the bar and Jarrett shot well wide from 15 yards.

The home side responded. Dan Gleeson crossed from the right and Mark Beesley, signed from Forest Green Rovers, headed wide. They also appealed for a penalty when Wolleaston went down inside the area under a challenge from Mawene. In the 39th minute, Pitt delivered a great cross from the left and Boylan sent a diving header flashing past the Stafford goal.

Rain fell at the interval during what was a largely sunny afternoon and less than a minute after the restart, Mawene shot wide from a knockdown from Draper.

Farrell crossed from the right towards the far post but, fortunately for Stafford, neither Wolleaston nor Pitt could apply the finishing touch. The home side appealed for another penalty when Sangare tackled Boylan inside the area. Again Mr Hendley said no.

Just before the hour mark, Draper won the ball in midfield, fed Ishmale Reid who set up Smith to fire just wide of the target.

Grayson hammered a 25-yard shot over the bar before the 48 travelling fans were celebrating what proved to be the winner. Smith latched onto Reid's flick, took the ball forward and steered a right-foot shot wide of Danny Potter in front of those delighted fans in the Heritage South Stand.

Jon Loukes replaced Tom Ingram in the 68th minute, just before Jarrett fouled Pitt to earn a booking. Carden was also cautioned by Mr Hendley in the 73rd minute for a foul on Draper. Cambridge made a double change and at the same time Nick Wellecomme came on for Nathan Smith.

Cambridge pressed for an equaliser. Pitt delivered a free-kick into the Stafford area which Grayson cleared with a diving header across the face of goal and out for a corner.

Both managers made a final change at the same time - Seb Arnolin replaced Jarrett who had earlier picked up a knock. Mawene saw yellow in the 83rd minute for handball.

Stafford continued to resolutely hold on to their one-goal advantage. With time running out for Cambridge to grab an equaliser, Wolleaston crossed into the area and substitute Jack Jeffery glanced a header wide. They went even closer to an equaliser in stoppage time when Beesley slammed a low drive against the left-hand post.

At the final whistle, the travelling fans cheered their heroes who applauded them in thanks for the support. The win lifted Stafford off the bottom, level on points with Droylsden who have a game in hand. Their home game with Ebbsfleet fell victim to a waterlogged pitch.

Cambridge United (amber and black stripes / black / black): 1. Danny Potter, 21 Michael Morrison, 6. Mark Albrighton (capt), 27. Wayne Hatswell, 7. Dan Gleeson, 2. Ben Farrell, 15. Paul Carden, 8. Rob Wolleaston, 11. Courtney Pitt. 30. Mark Beesley, 10. Lee Boylan. Subs: 3. Stephen Reed (for Farrell, 74), 12. Jack Jeffery (for Pitt, 82), 23. Josh Coulson, 26. Robbie Willmott, 39. Magno Vieira (for Boyland, 74)

Stafford Rangers (blue / white / blue): 1. Danny Alcock, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 7. Chris Flynn, 6. Djoumin Sangare, 35. Damion Jarrett, 22. Samy Mawene, 17. Ross Draper, 16. Tom Ingram, 30. Ishmale Reid, 9. Neil Grayson, 15. Nathan Smith. Subs: 8. Kevin Street, 19. Seb Arnolin (for Jarrett, 81), 33. Danny Allen (gk), 42. Nick Wellecomme (for Smith, 75), 44. Jonathan Loukes (for Ingram, 68)

Referee: Andy Hendley (West Midlands)
Attendance: 3810 (inc 48 away fans)