Vauxhall Motors 0 Stafford Rangers 0

Saturday 12th February 2005
Vauxhall Motors 0 Stafford Rangers 0
Nationwide North
At: Rivacre Park, Rivacre Road, Hooton
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Programme: ???
Attendance: 246
Weather: windy
Duration: first-half: 45:54; second-half: 46:05

Rangers’ first-ever visit to Rivacre Park on The Wirral was a largely-forgettable goalless draw played is very windy conditions. There was little goalmouth action though, on 82 minutes, Vauxhall almost snatched victory from their only corner of the second half.

Previously I’d visited the ground back in April 1988 when Vauxhall GM lost 1-0 at home to Ashton Town in a North-West Counties League Division Two game.

This afternoon, both sides found it difficult to play football and, as a result, few scoring opportunities were created, admittedly against two well-organised defences.

Injuries forced two changes to the Stafford starting line-up. Richie Beale regained his left-back spot in place of Dennis Pearce while Craig Lovatt came in for player-boss Phil Robinson. And Alex Gibbons was rewarded for some excellent performances in the reserves with a place amongst the substitutes.

Stafford got the game underway as Vauxhall Motors decided to attack with the wind in the first half and, early on, Alan Griffiths fired a 25-yard free kick straight at the well-positioned Glyn Thompson.

The home side kept the ball inside the Rangers half for long periods though they were restricted to trying their luck from occasional free-kicks, corners and speculative efforts.

Making their first-ever visit to the Wirral-based club, Stafford worked hard to get forward and, on the half hour, Neil Grayson got inside the home area but good defending prevented the striker from getting in a shot.

With Stafford ‘benefiting’ from the wind in the second half, both sides attempted to play passing football. There was danger for Stafford in the 59th minute when James Olsen delivered a far post cross towards Anthony Wright who couldn’t quite get his head to the ball.

Stafford’s best chance came four minutes later. A deep cross from the left, aimed at Robin Gibson, was pushed behind by home ’keeper Tim Dittmer at the expense of a corner.

Vauxhall almost scored a dramatic late winner in the 83rd minute, from their only corner of the second half. Wayne McDermott’s flag kick caused problems and both Robbie Lawton and Steve McNulty has efforts blocked, and James Parry volleyed wide.

Rangers survived to extend their current unbeaten run to six league and cup games. And, by becoming only the third side to prevent Vauxhall scoring this season, added a fourteenth clean sheet to their impressive defensive record.

Stafford have had some bad luck on their travels this season and another nightmare could have occurred at Rivacre Park, when power cut in the local area put the floodlights out of action. Fortunately, there was sufficient light to complete the game, despite the concerns of the referee at half-time.

Vauxhall Motors (white / navy blue / white): 1. Tim Dittmer, 2. Lee Woodyatt, 3. Carl Spellman, 4. Alan Griffiths, 5. Steve McNulty, 6. Phil Brazier, 7. Darren Wright, 8. Robbie Lawton (capt), 9. Anthony Wright, 10. James Olsen, 11. Chris Noone. Subs: 12. James Parry (for Noone, 61), 14. Carl Nesbitt (not used), 15. Wayne McDermott (for Griffiths, 77), 16. Mike Duffy (not used), 17. Carl Macauley (not used).

Stafford Rangers (red/red/red): 1. Glyn Thompson, 2. Craig McAughtrie, 3. Richard Beale, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Craig Lovatt, 7. Nathan Talbott, 8. Rob Heath, 9. Neil Grayson, 10. Lee Downes, 11. Robin Gibson. Subs: 12. Danny Edwards (not used), 14. Craig Wilding (for Downes, 67), 15. Alan Dodd (not used), 16. Jamie Phoenix (for Talbott, 84), 17. Alex Gibbons (not used).

Referee: D. Roberts (Salford).
Assistants: Mr Bristow (Manchester) and Mr Maxon (Manchester).

Goals: none

Cards: none

Stafford Rangers 1 Hinckley United 1

Saturday 5th February 2005
Stafford Rangers 1 Hinckley United 1
Nationwide North
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Programme: ???
Attendance: 678
Weather: Drizzle
Duration: first-half: 47:54; second-half: 47:00

Games between Stafford and Hinckley are traditionally close and this one was no exception. The visitors took the lead in the 36th minute after Craig McAughtrie had to head behind a dangerous Paul Barnes cross. From the corner, the ball came out to the edge of the area where Piercewright struck a rising shot through a crowd of players into the top corner of the net past Stafford’s new ’keeper Glyn Thompson. Rangers levelled in the 66th minute when a corner came out to Lovatt on the edge of the area. He jinked past one challenge before firing low into the opposite bottom corner of the Hinckley net.

Hinckley got the game underway attacking the social club end in the first half – right to left in relation to my seat in the stand.

An early free-kick from Hinckley’s Paul Barnes failed to trouble Stafford’s debutant goalkeeper Glyn Thompson while Wayne Daniel’s header at the other end lacked direction.
There was little goalmouth action during the opening half hour, then Craig Lovatt fed Lee Downes who fired wide.

A couple of substitutions didn’t help Stafford’s cause and Hinckley took a 35th minute lead. A left-wing corner delivered by John Burns wasn’t cleared and Brad Piercewright fired home a rising shot from just inside the area into the top-left corner.

Hinckley nearly scored a second goal three minutes later. Burns crossed from the right to the near post where Colin Marrison shot wide.

Stafford got back on level terms in the 66th minute. Substitute Danny Edwards delivered a left-wing corner into the area where Stafford appealed for handball. Play continued and Craig Lovatt sent a low shot across the face of goal into the far bottom-left corner of the net.

Dennis Pearce was named Man of the Match.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / Black / black): 1. Glyn Thompson, 2. Craig McAughtrie, 3. Dennis Pearce, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Nathan Talbott, 7. Phil Robinson, 8. Rob Heath, 9. Neil Grayson, 10. Lee Downes, 11. Robin Gibson. Subs: 12. Craig Wilding (not used), 14. Craig Lovatt (for Robinson, 17), 15. Alan Dodd (not used), 16. Danny Edwards (for Gibson, 34), 17. Richard Beale (not used).

Hinckley United (blue and red stripes / blue / red): 1. Tommy Whittle, 2. Neil Cartwright, 3. Brad Piercewright, 4. Richard Lavery, 5. Adam Willis, 6. Andy Penny, 7. Stuart Storer (capt), 8. Leon Jackson, 9. Paul Barnes, 10. Colin Marrison, 11. John Burns. Subs: 12. Chris Smith (for Barnes, 80), 14. Wayne Dyer (for Penny, ht), 15. Craig Woodley (for Burns, 79) [only three subs named].

Referee: P I Thompson (Chesterfield).
Assistants: S. Spering (Ripley) and A. G. Storer (Ripley).

0-1 Brad Piercewright (35)
1-1 Craig Lovatt (66)

Cards: none