Stalybridge Celtic 3 Stafford Rangers 2

Saturday 30th April 2011
Stalybridge Celtic 3 Stafford Rangers 2
Blue Square Bet North
At: Bower Fold
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £10; Programme: £2 (44 pages)
Attendance: 583
Weather: hot and sunny
Duration: first-half: 47:00; second-half: 50:38

Stafford Rangers failed in the bid to avoid relegation to the third tier of non-league football, going down 3-2 to an impressive young Stalybridge Celtic side who played some delightful passing football on a decent playing surface. For the first 70 minutes, Rangers looked like dropping to the Evo-Stik League with barely a whimper as goals from Connor Jennings (13th minute) and Arthur Gnahoua (58th minute) looked like being part of a substantial win for the home side. Up to that point the only decent Stafford effort was a Luke Keen shot that rebounded off the bar. But, in the Blue Square Bet North’s ‘Old Firm’ game, Rangers halved Celtic’s lead with an Andre Francis header (63rd minute) and suddenly decided to go on the attack. Gaps at the back allowed Joel Bembo-Leta to restore Celtic’s two goal lead in the 74th minute, only for Marco Adaggio (or possibly a Jan Budtz own goal) to quickly reply for Rangers. Stafford pressed hard and Danny Edwards headed inches over the bar while Celtic should have scored again during an exciting finale. Deep into stoppage time Jermaine Johnson was sent off for a professional foul. In the end, it wouldn’t have matters if Stafford had won as Hyde triumphed 2-1 at Corby to leave Stafford four points from safety in the final league table. Even though I wasn’t a member of the press today, I particularly enjoyed rolling back the years by sitting in the press box and enjoying the company of Gary Hazlehurst.

Stalybridge Celtic (blue with white sleeves / white / blue): 1. Jan Budtz, 2. Glenn Rule, 3. Andy McWilliams, 4. Rhys Meynell (capt), 5. Kristian Platt, 6. Jack Rea, 7. Callum Warburton, 8. Greg Wilkinson, 9. Connor Jennings, 10. Craig Hobson, 11. Lloyd Ellams. Subs: 12 Arthur Gnahoua (for Ellams, 53), 14. Joel Bembo-Leta (for Meynell, 41), 15. Tom Buckley (not used), 16. Adam Kay (not used), 17. Dennis Sherriff (for Hobson, 73).

Stafford Rangers (red/red/red): 1. Lee Evans, 2. Jermaine Johnson, 3. Fabrice Kassiama, 4. Mark Dudley, 5. Craig McAughtrie (capt), 6. Niall Maguire, 7. Andre Francis, 8. Sean Kinsella, 9. Ben Mills, 10. Luke Keen, 11. Danny Edwards. Subs: 12. Marco Adaggio (for Kinsella, 70), 14. Martyn Naylor (for Francis, 79), 15. Callum Wright (not used), 16. Tyree Clarke (for Keen, 89), 17gk. Tom Turner (not used).

Referee: S. Lucas (Darwen).
Assistants: P. Maxson and D. Underwood.

1-0 Connor Jennings (13)
2-0 Arthur Gnahoua (58)
2-1 Andre Francis (65)
3-1 Joel Bembo-Leta (74)
3-2 Marco Adaggio (76)

Stalybridge: none
Stafford: Jermaine Johnson (YC, 50), Ben Mills (YC, 77), Jermaine Johnson (YC/RC, 90+5)