Kidsgrove Athletic 1 Stafford Rangers 3
At: Hollinswood Road
Kick-off: 7-30 pm
Admission: £3; Programme: none
Stafford Rangers began a new era following promotion to the Dr Martens League Premier Division with their opening 2000/01 pre-season friendly at North-West Counties League side Kidsgrove Athletic.
Compared to last season Western Division title-winning side, manager Ian Painter introduced three new faces – defenders Chris Brindley and Darren Simkin along with midfielder Neil Smith.
Stafford were well on top during the opening 15 minutes with Paul Kiely and Scott Dundas both going close with shots from outside the Kidsgrove area. Kidsgrove striker Carl Bayley brought out a diving save from Richard Williams before the visitors eventually opened the scoring in the 20th minute. A deep left wing corner delivered by Darren Shaw was headed back into the danger area by Chris Brindley for Kiely to flick a header into the net from 6 yards.
Kidsgrove equalised in the 31st minute when a misunderstanding in the Rangers defence allowed Andy Kinsey to find Bayley unmarked on the right side of the area. He cut inside and beat Williams with a shot that went in off the far post.
Eight minutes later Jason Smith created space down the right for Leigh Everritt to run on to and cross from the byeline. Tony Eccleston leaped high in front of goal to head in from close range. Jason Smith and Kiely both went close with cross shots before the latter got his second goal of the night. Eccleston did well to hold up a ball into the area before laying it back for Kiely to fire home low inside the upright from 20 yards right on half time.
The scoreline at the end of the first half was also the final score with were no further goals during the second half. It was punctuated with several Rangers’ substitutions and Ian Painter can be pleased with the performances of his new faces along with a number of last season’s regulars in this highly entertaining game.
Kidsgrove Athletic (blue/blue/blue): 1. Damian Grange, 2. Steve Davies, 3. John Evans, 4. Danny McVey, 5. Wayne Mountford, 6. Steve Colclough, 7. Chris Bermingham, 8. Andy Kinsey, 9. Carl Bayley, 10. Neil Dixon, 11. Michael Williamson. Subs: GK. Simon Pay (for Grange, ht), 15. Steve Eaton (for Dixon, 67).
Stafford Rangers (maroon/maroon/maroon): 1. Richard Williams, 2. Leigh Everritt, 3. Darren Shaw, 4. Stuart Ryder, 5. Chris Brindley, 6. Darren Simkin, 7. Jason Smith, 8. Neil Smith, 9. Tony Eccleston, 10. Paul Kiely, 11. Scott Dundas. Subs: 17. Nick Carter (for Shaw, ht), 15. Richard Swain (for Eccleston, 60), 16. Dean Craven (for Jason Smith, 60), 73. x. David Read (for Ryder, 74), x. Dominic Heath (for Neil Smith, 74), GK. Karl Ward (not used).
Referee: E Preece.
0-1 Richard Mitchell (19)
1-1 Carl Bayley (31)
1-2 Tony Eccleston (39)
1-3 Richard Mitchell (45)