Eight goals - eight different scorers

Saturday 9th July 2011
Stafford Rangers 2 Port Vale 6
Pre-season Friendly
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: none; Teamsheet: free
Attendance: 754
Weather: warm and sunny
Duration: first-half: 45:07; second-half: 44:50

The result didn’t matter. What did matter was a healthy attendance (yes, 754), a decent performance (yes, particularly in the first half) and fans going home happy (yes, I think most did). And to be honest, even though Rangers lost 6-2, I personally think the first game of the Clowes era was a success.

Not a single player who featured for Stafford last season was included in the starting line-up though two players – Glyn Blackhurst and Kevin Street – had previously played for the first team. Vale manager Micky Adams brought 22 played and all but two played an entire half, either the first or second half. Featuring for Vale were former Stafford Rangers loanees Stuart Tomlinson and Anthony Griffith, as well as former trailist Adam Yates.

Sky Sports News decided to cover the game with a reporter in the stand and satellite van in front of the refreshments bar.

Though cloudy before the game, Marston Road was bathed in sunshine by kick-off time. Port Vale (wearing sky blue shirts with navy blue shorts and socks) got the game underway attacking the Social Club end in the first half, and they almost took a first minute lead. Rob Taylor got down the left, crossed into the area where Ben Williamson saw a shot blocked by the boot of Danny Read.

However, it was Stafford (wearing all red) who scored the lead in the 13th minute. Kevin Street delivered a free-kick into the area where Liam Shotton turned and fired low past Stuart Tomlinson at close range.

It was good watch the game in the company of Facebook friend John Revitt and his sharp eyes noticed that two of the Stafford outfield players (no. 5 and no. 8) had white rather than black numbers. I wondered if these shirts were replacements for last season’s change kit wore on the final day at Stalybridge.

Back to the action and Mark Richards should have equalised with a free header that missed the target from Mike Green’s cross. That didn’t matter as Vale equalised four minutes later in the 29th minute. Defender John McCombe, up for a corner, powered home a header from a left-wing cross.

Vale got themselves in front two minutes later. Rob Taylor was left unmarked in front of goal and he headed home a diagonal ball from the right at the far post. And the visitors scored a third goal just before the interval. Read tipped over a rising shot from Sam Morsy and after the resulting corner was cleared back to the left wing, Ben Williamson headed home a perfect cross.

While Greg Clowes sent out an unchanged side for the second half, Micky Adams replaced ten of his eleven starters with just Adam Yates (swapping the ‘2’ shirt for one bearing ‘14’) remaining.

Port Vale scored a fourth goal in the 66th minute when Sean Rigg converted a low cross from the left. Moments later it should have been five. Lewis Haldane stayed onside and took the ball forward into the Stafford area before setting up an easy tap-in for Justin Richards who amazingly missed the target.

In the 76th minute, Stafford reduced the deficit through substitute James Marsden. Chris Budrys was brought down outside the area by Chris Martin and Marsden, spotting a gap, hammered the free-kick past the wall and straight into the bottom left corner of the net.

The visitors added two futher goals before the end. Former Stafford loan player Anthony Griffith (20 appearances, 0 goals, during the 2006/07 season) hit an unstoppable drive from 25 yards into the top-left corner in the 79th minute. Two minutes later Doug Loft dribbled through the Stafford defence and slotted home with ease past substitute keeper Gareth Barker.

Referee: Steve Martin.
Assistants: Dragan Kuzmanovic and Matt Jones.
Fourth Official: Andy Martin.

1-0 Liam Shotton (13)
1-1 John McCombe (29)
1-2 Rob Taylor (31)
1-3 Ben Williamson (44)
1-4 Sean Rigg (66)
2-4 James Marsden (76)
2-5 Anthony Griffith (79)
2-6 Doug Loft (81)

Stafford: none
Port Vale: none