Rocester 1 Stafford Rangers 0

Saturday 23rd July 2011
Rocester 1 Stafford Rangers 0
Pre-season Friendly
At Hillsfield
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: free (8 pages)
Weather: sunny, strong wind
Attendance: 155 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 45:20; second-half: 45:03

Back to Rocester for my tenth visit and the seventh pre-season game I’ve seen at Hillfields between the Romans and Stafford Rangers.

Plenty of familiar faces in the crowd and it was good to spend some of the game in the company of former press box colleagues Gary Hazlehurst and Chris Elsley, who are still actively providing copy for various papers and the official Stafford website. It was also great to see and briefly chat with Bob Gee, who isn't too well at the moment, and his son Alan. Thank you to Rocester Secretary Barry Smith for a copy of the teamsheet.

For me it was the second time I’d seen Rocester and Stafford in action this pre-season. Since they lost 6-2 two weeks ago against Port Vale, Stafford have played two further games, a 2-0 defeat at Kidsgrove last Saturday and a 3-2 win at Stone Dominoes two days ago. Rocester I saw lose 5-2 at home to Burton Albion on Tuesday.

Rocester (in amber and black striped shirts, black shorts and socks) got the friendly underway attacking the mill end in the first half. They survived an early square when defender Darren Bullock headed Jon Sheldon’s free-kick against his own bar.

Stafford keeper Danny Rhead produced a superb save in the 9th minute to tip over a rising drive from the yellow-booted Chris Owen. At the other end, Rocester’s Richard Froggatt did well to turn over a shot from Liam Shotton.

Both Stafford skipper Paul Donnelly and Rocester’s Chris Sterling both picked up a yellow card following an incident that ensued inside the Stafford area after Sterling collided with Rhead.

Froggatt parried a low shot from Alex Forde and Sheldon’s cross-cum-shot rebounded off the bar as Stafford looked to take the lead before the interval.

While Rocester returned to the changing room at half-time, Greg Clowes camped his side on the pitch and sent out the same line-up for the second half. During the interval, a Vulcan bomber flew past to the south of the ground.

Paul McMahon, scorer of two goals on Tuesday against Burton was unlucky not to find the net again in the 49th minute. His header was headed off the line by Sean Jones. Clowes changed his forward line to introduce Neville Thompson and Chris Budrys to the attack and the pair certainly livened things up front. The introduction of Dan Skelton made a positive impact as well and the left midfielder saw a shot cleared off the line.

The previous six Rocester v Stafford friendlies have produced five Stafford wins and one draw. Today was different as the Romans scored the only goal of this game in the 82 minute. Substitute Jack Langston, on the left inside the area, fired a low angled shot into the opposite right corner of the net.

Thompson could have equalised when he got on the end of Rob Stevenson’s cross but couldn’t direct his shot on target.

1-0 Jack Langston (82)