Old Hill Town 4 Leamington Hibernian 1

Saturday 29th January 2005
Old Hill Town 4 Leamington Hibernian 1
Midland Combination Division One
At: Hingleys, Bluebell Road
Kick-off: 2-00 pm
Admission: none; Programme: £1
Attendance: 25 (headcount)
Weather: cold, dry
Duration: first-half: 47:05; second-half:-

A devastating fire at The Moorlands earlier in the week forced the postponement of Stafford Rangers’ away game against Moor Green. Instead I headed to The Hingleys to see Old Hil Town entertain Leamington Hibernian in the Midland Combination Division One.

Entrance to the ground was from Bluebell Road and the pitch (orientated north-west–south-east) ran widthways on the near side of a larger playing field which also included a second football pitch and a rugby pitch. The near touchline, with dugouts on halfway, and both ends were railed off with the far touchline roped off. Behind the left-hand goal was a small area of cover and the ground boasted a terrace step behind the dugouts. Programmes and hot drinks were available from the changing rooms building.

Old Hill got the game underway attacking the cover end in the first half and took the lead just before the half-hour mark. Put clear by Wayne Dickinson, Karl Donneley got clear into the area and hesitated before lifting a rising shot over the keeper into the net as defender Marc Chung challenged.

It wasn’t until the 72nd minute that Old Hill doubled their lead. After Anthony Carter gave the ball away, Danny Pilgrim played a defence-splitting pass through to substitute Ashley Greenaway who got clear on the right and lobbed keeper Neil Thornton from 15 yards out.

The visitors reduced the deficit with a headed goal in the 84th minute. Carter delivered a free-kick into the area from the right for Cecil Godfrey to head across goal into the bottom left corner of the net.

However, Old Hill restored their two-goal advantage within three minutes. Greenaway exchanged passes with Danny Pilgrim before firing home a low shot from 10 yards which Thornton got a hand to.

Old Hill wrapped up the win with a fourth goal in stoppage time. Dickinson got into the area from the left and scored with a deflected shot that deceived Thornton.

Old Hill Town (navy blue / navy blue / sky blue): 1. Andy Tansley, 2. Richard Deeming, 3. Luke Paskin, 4. Mark Fortner (capt), 5. Chris Hickey, 6. Dave Boot, 7. Wayne Dickinson, 8. Karl Donneley, 9. Kyle Hadley, 10. Danny Pilgrim, 11. Chris Hill. Subs: 12. Dave Evans (for Hickey, 58), 14. Ashley Greenaway (for Boot, 67), 15. Stuart Butcher (for Hill, 76).

Leamington Hibernian (green with white sleeves / white / yellow): 1. Neil Thornton, 2. Anthony Carter, 3. Paul Dable, 4. Darren Newby, 5. Marc Chung (capt), 6. Sushi Thind, 7. Ashley Kitchen, 8. Danny Price, 9. Mark Holiday, 10. John Durmer, 11. Yaz Chippo. Subs: 12. Martin Goode (not used), 14. Liam Barry (for Carter, 84), 15. Cecil Godfrey (for Kitchen, 53).

Referee: –

1-0 Karl Donneley (28)
2-0 Ashley Greenaway (72)
2-1 Cecil Godfrey (84)
3-1 Ashley Greenaway (87)
4-1 Wayne Dickinson (90+2)


Harrogate Town 0 Stafford Rangers 1

Saturday 15th January 2005
Harrogate Town 0 Stafford Rangers 1
Nationwide North
At: Wetherby Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 1246
Weather: drizzle, mild
Duration: first-half: 46:10; second-half: 48:17

This was the second trip to Harrogate this season and unlike the first trip back in October there were no problems with the electricity supply that caused the original game to be postponed. NEDL agreed to sponsor today’s game at let in spectators free of charge and a bumper attendance of 1246 was the result.

On the field, Stafford Rangers continued their push towards a place in the Nationwide Conference North playoff with a fine victory at Harrogate Town. Veteran striker Neil Grayson headed home the vital winner midway through the first half to earn his side a fifth win from their last six games.

With midfielder Craig Lovatt unable to return from suspension due to a toe injury, player-manager Phil Robinson named the same starting line-up and substitutes that won at Alfreton Town last Tuesday.

Defences were on top during the opening exchanges and, by the time Richard Beale replaced the unwell Dennis Pearce in the 19th minute, neither side had an attempt on goal.

Eventually, Harrogate midfielder James Turley volleyed towards goal but his effort was defelected wide for the first of ten corners won by the home side during the game.

Rangers, however, took advantage of a mistake to score what proved to be the winner in the 24th minute. Harrogate lost possession just inside their own half and the ball was quickly given to Robin Gibson. The winger beat the full-back and delivered an accurate cross that Grayson headed home at the far post.

Harrogate, defending the last unbeaten home record in the league, continued to push forward and Dominic Krief headed over a corner from in front of goal.

During the last 15 minutes of the first half, Stafford had no fewer than three opportunities to extend their lead. Grayson narrowly missed with a header across goal from Craig McAughtrie long throw. Jamie Phoenix got behind the home defence after latching onto a pass from Robinson but could only fire into the side netting. And in first-half injury time, Grayson saw a shot blocked by Town defender Simon Sturdy.

And five minutes after the restart, Rangers had another great chance to score. Put clear by Nathan Talbott, Grayson had a low shot blocked by the legs of home ’keeper Paul Pettinger who had come off his line to narrow the angle.

Harrogate piled on the pressure for long periods during the second half in a bid to salvage a point. Staurt Tomlinson made a fine save to keep out a shot from Turley and the home side almost scored on 64 minutes when Marc Smith headed against the Rangers bar.

And in the closing stages, Tomlinson was well positioned to hold a drive from Richard Dunning fired through a crowded area.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic as Stafford defender Chris Smith volleyed over the bar and Gibson also fired straight at Pettinger.

Harrogate Town (yellow and black stripes / black / black): 1. Paul Pettinger (capt), 2. Richard Dunning, 3. Mark Barnard, 4. Simon Sturdy, 5. Paul Shepherd, 6. Lee Philpott, 7. James Turley, 8. Dominic Krief, 9. Mark Smith, 10. Danny Holland, 11. Lee Featherstone. Subs: 12. Ian Blackstone (not used), 14. Grant Black (for Turley, 67), 15. Lee Wood (for Philpott, 78), 16. Lee Morris (for Featherstone, 82), 17gk. Nick Buxton (not used).

Stafford Rangers (red/red/red): 1. Stuart Tomlinson, 2. Craig McAughtrie, 3. Dennis Pearce, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Nathan Talbott, 7. Phil Robinson, 8. Robert Heath, 9. Neil Grayson, 10. Jamie Phoenix, 11. Robin Gibson. Subs: 12. Craig Wilding (for Phoenix, 63), 14. Lee Downes (not used), 15. Alan Dodd (not used), 16. Danny Edwards (not used), 17. Richard Beale (for Pearce, 19).

Referee: S. Duncan (Newcastle-upon-Tyne).

0-1 Neil Grayson (24)

Harrogate: Simon Sturdy (YC, 87)
Stafford: Craig McAughtrie (YC, 64)

Phil Robinson: “You can see why they were unbeaten at home in the league until today. They have a good squad of players and are a decent team.

“I thought, today, our players worked tremendously hard for 90 minutes and had to defend for long periods of the game, which they did resolutely.

“For the possession Harrogate had, and they had the ball for quite a while, they only had one real effort on target that Stuart Tomlinson had to deal with. Harrogate only had one effort on target compared to our four.

“Neil has been harping on lately about the need to get more balls into the box. If we did, he said he would deal with them and today he scored a great goal.”

Alfreton Town 0 Stafford Rangers 1

Tuesday 11th January 2005
Alfreton Town 0 Stafford Rangers 1
Nationwide North
At: Impact Arena, North Street
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Programme: £2 (40 pages)
Attendance: 355
Weather: cold, windy
Duration: first-half: 46:31; second-half: 49:00

Stafford Rangers moved into the top half of the Conference North table thanks to a single goal victory at Alfreton Town. And it was player-manager Phil Robinson, on his first start since September, who scored the winner a minute after the restart.

With Craig Lovatt suspended, Robinson partnered Rob Heath in the centre of midfield with Lee Downes dropping to the bench. And the exciting Jamie Phoenix made his full debut and certainly made his presence felt before being replaced by Craig Wilding just past the hour mark.

Alfreton got the game underway attacking the far covered terrace end in the first half, up the slope and into the wind.

Not unsurprisingly for a game involving two of the meanest defences in the league, chances were restricted during the first half.

Stuart Tomlinson made a good save inside the first minute to push away a well-struck shot by Mick Godber.

With the strong wind and slope aiding Stafford in the first, Robin Gibson, Robinson and Neil Grayson all went close without testing Lee Butler. But the Alfreton keeper needed to be alert to keep out a miss-hit clearance from own defender Grant Brown.

Alfreton put Rangers under pressure during the latter stages of the first half. The giant Mark Sale sent a near-post free-header wide and Tomlinson kept the scores level with further fine saves from Chris Bettney and Mark Blount.

Rangers immediately got forward from the restart and scored what proved to be winner just over a minute into the second half. Rob Heath’s cross was partially cleared to Robinson on the edge of the area who volleyed towards goal. The shot should have been comfortably saved by Butler who let the ball slip through his hands and into the net.

The second half provided a lot more entertainment and on 54 minute, Phoenix burst down the left and drove the ball across the face of goal. Grayson, who had sprinted into the area, couldn’t quite get on the end.

Alfreton mounted a strong effort in the closing stages to salvaging a point. They pumped high balls forward towards giant 6’ 5” striker Mark Sale, nearly all of which were efficiently dealt with by the well-organised Stafford defence. Godber fired straight at Tomlinson, who also made a fine save in the closing stages to keep out Mitch Ward’s free-kick.

Rangers eventually got the ball into the Alfreton half and the experience of Robinson cleverly wound down the clock in injury time.

Alfreton Town (red/red/red): 1. Lee Butler, 2. Ian Robinson, 3. Mark Blount, 4. Ben Chapman, 5. Grant Brown (capt), 6.Richard Cooper, 7. Chris Bettney, 8. Emeka Nwadike, 9. Mick Godber, 10. Peter Duffield, 11. Mark Sale. Subs: 12. Mitch Ward (for Nwadike, 53), 14. Ryan Mallon (for Bettney, 75), 15. Chris Dolby Not used), 16. Paul Teather (not used), 17. Steve Woolley (not used).

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Stuart Tomlinson, 2. Craig McAughtrie, 3. Dennis Pearce, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Nathan Talbott, 7. Phil Robinson, 8. Robert Heath, 9. Neil Grayson, 10. Jamie Phoenix, 11. Robin Gibson. Subs: 12. Craig Wilding (for Phoenix, 63), 14. Lee Downes (for Talbott, 84), 15. Alan Dodd (not used), 16. Danny Edwards (not used), 17. Richard Beale (not used).

Referee: M. C. Dexter (Leicester).

0-1 Phil Robinson (47)

Alfreton: Ben Chapman (YC, 65)
Stafford: Robin Gibson (YC, 12), Craig Wilding (YC, 90)

Mickleover Sports 0 Eccleshill United 2

Saturday 8th January 2005
Mickleover Sports 0 Eccleshill United 2
Northern Counties East League Premier Division
At: Station Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £4; Programme: £1-50
Attendance: 80
Weather: dry and sunny
Duration: first-half: 46:00; second-half: 45:43

While Stafford Rangers' home game with Gainsborough Trinity was postponed, there were no such problems at the Station Road home of Mickleover Sports.

Mickelover got the game underway attacking the changing room end in the first half but fell behind in the 7th minute. The home defence were hesitant in dealing with a hanging right-wing cross allowing Matthew Tinsley an easy task to stab the ball home into the bottom left corner from 10 yards out.

Tom Gibson got Mickleover back on level term just before the half hour when he fired against the bar and, soon after, visiting defender Richard Wilson almost headed into his own net.

Eccleshill enjoyed a good spell around hour mark. Tinsley forced a decent save out of Mark Wilson who tipped a rising shot over the bar. From the resulting corner, Robert Morgan headed against the bar. Further pressure saw Ian Twitchen also head against the bar before Eccleshill doubled their lead in the 67th minute. James Couborough's corner was cleared to Tinsley who crossed for Saul Peltier to flick the ball home at the near post.

Substitute Jamie Porley and Karl Yeoman both went close but it just wasn't Mickleover's day as Eccleshill returned to West Yorkshire with the points.

Mickleover Sports (red with black sleeves / red / black): 1. Mark Wilson, 2. Ross Mays, 3. Corin Holness (capt), 4. Gavin Wilson, 5. Mark Strzyweski, 6. Karl Yeoman, 7. Paul Stevens, 8. Tommy Leighton, 9. Bevan Hudson, 10. Blake Hogan, 11. Tom Gibson. Subs: 12. Neil Broadhurst (for Gibson, 71), 14. Tom Betteridge (for Hogan, 71), 15. Jamie Porley (for Hudson, 66).

Eccleshill United (dark yellow / bright yellow / dark yellow): 1. Craig Bates, 2. Stuart Waite, 3. Paul Newsome, 4. Richard Wilson (capt), 5. Robert Morgan, 6. Paul Jones, 7. James Couborough, 8. Saul Peltier, 9. Ian Twitchen, 10. Jamie Buchen, 11. Matthew Tinsley. Subs: 12. Chris Wood (for Peltier, 77), 14. Ben Hardy (for Couborough, 84), 15. Liam Dolan (not used).

Referee: J. R. Hubbard (Leicester).

0-1 Matthew Tinsley (7)
0-2 Saul Peltier (67)

Mickleover: none
Eccleshill: Richard Wilson (YC, 90)

Altrincham 0 Stafford Rangers 0

Saturday 1st January 2005
Altrincham 0 Stafford Rangers 0
(abandoned after 27 minutes due to a waterlogged pitch)
Nationwide North
At: Moss Lane
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 870
Weather: Rain
Duration: first-half: 27:46

Stafford Rangers suffered their second wasted away journey in just over two months as this game at Altrincham was abandoned after 27 minutes.

Starting before kick-off, an hour of rain, often torrential, left the pitch waterlogged and Preston-based referee R. L. Metcalfe had no choice but to call a halt.

There was no warning of what was to come on the journey up the M6 to Cheshire. But the heavens opened around half of an hour before kick-off and the referee carried out an unscheduled pitch inspection before giving the go-ahead.

Stafford player-manager Phil Robinson was forced to make three changes to the side that narrowly lost at home to Altrincham on Boxing Day. Illness kept out Craig McAughtrie and Robert Heath while Craig Lovatt missed the trip through suspension. Alan Dodd and Craig Wilding returned to the side and Jamie Phoenix came in for his full debut.

Early play was littered with free-kicks as players from both side struggled on the increasingly wet pitch. Altrincham created the first serious chance on 15 minutes. Rod Thornley got into the Stafford area on the right and fired into the side netting. Thornley was also involved in Altrincham’s other chance. He sent a diving header wide from Colin Potts’ free-kick delivered into the area.

As the rain continued, Neil Grayson sent a low 25-yard drive inches wide of the home net. But a sudden heavy downpour forced the referee to take players off, initially for five minutes. However, it was no surprise that the match was abandoned following a brief inspection even though the rain had eased.

Altrincham (red and white stripes / black / red): 1. Stuart Coburn, 2. Stephen Aspinall, 3. Chris Adams, 4. Mark Maddox, 5. Gary Talbot, 6. Eddie Hussin (capt), 7. Colin Potts, 8. Gary Scott, 9. Marcus Hallows, 10. Rod Thornley, 11. Colin Little. Subs: 12. Paul Tilley, 14. Keiran Lugsden, 15. Peter Wright, 16. Sean Smith, 17. George Melling (all not used).

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / white / black): 1. Stuart Tomlinson, 2. Alan Dodd, 3. Dennis Pearce, 4. Chris Smith, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Nathan Talbott, 7. Lee Downes, 8. Jamie Phoenix, 9. Neil Grayson, 10. Craig Wilding, 11. Robin Gibson. Subs: 12. Danny Edwards, 14. Richard Beale, 15. Gary Fife, 16. Phil Robinson, 17. Dave Norton (all not used).

Referee: R. L. Metcalfe (Preston).
Assistants: A. Moore and S. Parker.


Altrincham: none
Stafford: none