Tuesday 28th February

Stafford Rangers 2 Woking 4
FA Carlsberg Trophy Fourth Round Replay
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 1781

Saturday 25th February

Saturday 25th February 2006
Woking 1 Stafford Rangers 1
FA Carlsberg Trophy Fourth Round
At: Kingfield
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 2020

Stafford Rangers will be looking to claim a third Nationwide Conference scalp in this season’s FA Trophy when they take on Woking in Tuesday's quarter-final replay.

Based on today’s performance and the fact that Morecambe and Forest Green Rovers have already fallen at Marston Road, there is no reason why Rangers shouldn’t be full of confidence about reaching the semi-finals.

Woking may have been lacking their suspended leading scorer and played for nearly an hour with ten men after keeper Shwan Jalal was sent off, but that shouldn’t detract from what Stafford achieved at the wind-swept Kingfield Stadium.

Phil Robinson and the band of over five hundred travelling fans, who made a up a quarter of the 2,020 attendance, were delighted that Rangers proved more than a match for the side placed ninth in the league above.

The manager said: “I thought it was a good performance. We knew that in second half, even with Woking having a man sent off, we’d be under pressure with the force of the wind and the way they play. Overall I thought we were decent, created some good opportunities during the game and limited theirs. But, they always looked a bit of a danger from set-pieces with the wind.”

Stafford, attacking with the strong wind, took the lead on 36 minutes. Neil Grayson got clear as he chased a long ball down the middle from Wayne Daniel. Jalal, who rushed off his line, fumbled under pressure on the edge of the area and then pulled back the veteran striker. The referee had no choice but to dismiss the keeper and, after a delay of several minutes, Grayson coolly sent substitute Clint Davies the wrong way from the penalty spot.

Woking caused problems in the second half, despite being a man short, but Stafford could well have doubled their advantage. Paul Groves and Nathan Talbott both missed from good positions, while Craig Lovatt fired into the sidenetting.

The dangerous Steve Ferguson fired across the face of the Stafford goal before the home side levelled on 67 minutes. Paul Watson’s corner was headed towards goal and Craig McAllister hooked the ball home.

Rangers could have ‘shut up shop’ and settled for a draw but that isn’t the way they play. Robinson, who made two attack-minded substitutions, added: “It is a philosophy we have had all season. We have tried to win every game as there is no point trying to play out the draw.”

Both sides could have won the game in the closing stages. Ferguson sent a free header straight to Dean Williams while Lovatt did the same to Woking’s Davies.

Looking ahead to the replay, Robinson said: “We are looking forward to the game at Marston Road and are confident going into the replay. We have had a look at them first hand and been more than a match for them and looking forward to another game.”

Rangers: Williams, Groves, Talbott, McAughtrie, Daniel, Lovatt, Murray, Street, Grayson, Smith, R. Gibson. Subs: Thomson (for Murray, 77), Reid, Walker (for Smith, 85), Downes, Edwards.

Tuesday 21st February 2006

Vauxhall Motors 1 Stafford Rangers 3
Nationwide North
At: Rivacre Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 198

Stafford Rangers’ lead at the top of the Nationwide North table returned to eight points following a tenth away victory in the league this season.

While Nuneaton Borough were left frustrated with a goalless draw at home to Worcester City, Neil Grayson, Paul Groves and Robin Gibson all found the net at a cold and windswept Rivacre Park.

Unlike Leigh RMI, bottom club Vauxhall Motors clearly want all three points and went on the attack from the kick-off. Their lively front line caused problems with both Mark Smyth and Thomas Rooney, cousin of Wayne, firing wide.

There was further danger from a Mike Garrity corner when Steve McNulty headed straight at Dean Williams.

Rangers took a while to get going as the home side’s defence proved difficult to penetrate.

Peter Thomson, recalled to the side in place of Nathan Smith, almost put Rangers ahead on 26 minutes. He beat the diving Tim Dittmer with an angled shot, only the see the ball rebound off the far post.

But Boro took the lead eight minutes later. Unchallenged Grayson stayed onside to head home a cross from Groves.

The goal, arguably against the run of play, gave Rangers a lift and they looked to increase their advantage, Dittmer pulled off a remarkable save to turn over a shot from Thomson and Craig Lovatt fired over from a great position.

However, Vauxhall equalised on 43 minutes. Grayson was harshly adjudged to have handled a shot from Wayne McDermott inside a crowded area and Rooney converted the resulting penalty.

Craig McAughtrie received his fifth booking of the season, for dissent, in injury time, and will now be suspended for the home game with Stalybridge.

McDermott was fortunate to stay on the field for a late challenge on Gibson which reserved more than a booking.

It took Boro just nine minutes of the second half to regain the lead. Kevin Street delivered a free kick into the area and Groves headed past Dittmer.

To their credit, Vauxhall forced Boro to work hard at the back and Liam Murray justified his recall with a solid performance at left back.

The home side, who threw on three fresh attackers, were restricted to a handful of speculative shots which all missed the target.

The tension was finally lifted in injury time when Rangers added a third on the break. Smith found the persistent Gibson inside the area who eventually slotted home after Dittmer initially thwarted the winger.

Match Facts

Vauxhall Motors: Dittmer, Moogan, McDermott, Brazier, McNulty, Glendenning, Garrity, Rooney, Smyth, Lawton, Lawless. Subs: O’Donnell (for Glendenning, 73), Cumiskey (for Smyth, 76), Martindale (for Lawless, 80), Duffy, Field.

Stafford Rangers: Williams, Groves, Talbott, McAughtrie, Daniel, Lovatt, Murray, Street, Grayson, Thomson, R. Gibson. Subs: Smith (for Thomson, 61), Reid, Walker, Downes, Edwards.

Bookings: McDermott, Garrity (both Vauxhall); McAughtrie (Rangers).

Referee: R. Pollock (Merseyside).

Saturday 18th February 2006

Stafford Rangers 0 Leigh RMI 0
Nationwide North
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 1035

Leigh RMI defended stubbornly for ninety minutes and became the first side to stop the leaders from scoring in a Nationwide North game this season.

Well beaten in two meetings with Rangers this season at Hilton Park, the Railwaymen clearly came to Marston Road intent on gaining a point, which they did.

But Stafford manager Phil Robinson refused to be disheartened. He said: “It is a point in the right direction. We thought it was going to be difficult. They kept a lot of bodies behind the ball and didn’t seem too intent on getting forward.”

The kick-off was delayed by twenty minutes after assistant referee, Mr Hall, suffered a calf injury in the warm-up.

Once the game got underway with a replacement official, the visitors should have an early lead. Chris Simm got clear down the right but home goalkeeper Dean Williams blocked the resulting shot at the near post.

Stafford took a while to get going and midway through the first half, Levi Reid delivered a deep diagonal cross from the right to the far post. The ball fell to Nathan Smith who blasted a shot over.

Stafford almost broke through on 42 minutes. From Gibson’s corner, Craig McAughtrie saw a header blocked on the line by goalkeeper James Coates and Tony Dunne got in the way of a follow-up shot from Neil Grayson.

An injury to Coates forced the visitors to change their goalkeeper at the interval and replacement John Lamb eventually emerged a hero.

Rangers, themselves, made a double substitution on the hour mark with substitutes Peter Thomson and Dave Walker forming a revised attack.

The change looked to be working as Leigh’s rock-solid defence started to look shaky. Walker sent an angled shot inches wide and had another effort blocked.

Leigh regained the solidity at the back, though in the closing stages, defenders got in the way of shots from Craig Lovatt and Walker before Lamb pulled off a fabulous save in injury time.

Kevin Street crossed into a crowded area where Paul Groves fired towards goal. Lamb, diving at full length, pushed the ball away and McAughtrie sliced a follow-up shot wide.

Stafford Rangers: Williams, Groves, Talbott, McAughtrie, Daniel, Lovatt, Reid (walker, 59), Street, Grayson, Smith (Thomson, 59), R. Gibson. Unused subs: Murray, Downes, Edwards.

Leigh RMI: Coates (Lamb, ht), Harris, Roscoe, Stoker, Brockley, Dunne, Settle (Shillito, 73), Willis, Simm, McDowell, Wilkinson (Thompson, 90). Unused subs: Lopez, Taylor.

Referee: S. A. Pardoe (Crewe).
Attendance: 1,035.

Goals: -

Bookings: McDowell (Leigh, 81).

Non-League Paper Star Man: Steve Brockley (Leigh).
Sponsors Man of the Match: Craig McAughtrie.

Tuesday 14th February

Stafford Rangers 4 Worksop Town 2
Nationwide North
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 783

Redditch United 0 Stafford Rangers 1

Saturday 11th February 2006
Redditch United 0 Stafford Rangers 1
Nationwide North
At: Valley Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 546

Stafford Rangers extended their lead at the top of the Nationwide North table with a narrow victory at lowly Redditch United. Neil Grayson scored the winner after 20 minutes of a dour game with few clear-cut chances.

Before kick-off, Phil Robinson faced a selection dilemma but decided to bring Levi Reid back into the side in place of Liam Murray who did well in the previous game with Forest Green Rovers.

Redditch created a couple of early chances and Dean Williams got down to hold onto a well struck free-kick from recent signing Damon Whitcombe, one of Chasetown’s FA Cup heroes.

Stafford could have taken the lead on 16 minutes. Peter Thomson fed Robin Gibson on the right who delivered a cross into the area. Craig Lovatt had sprinted forward and saw his shot turned round by Redditch ’keeper Richard Anstiss.

However, the large number of travelling fans had to wait just four more minutes before Rangers scored what proved the winner thanks to poor marking. Gibson did well to head back a deep cross from Craig McAughtrie and unchallenged Grayson headed home from in front of goal.

Stafford kept things tight at the back with former teammate Craig Wilding proving a handful for McAughtrie and skipper Wayne Daniel.

McAughtrie should have put the result beyond the reach of the home side a minute after the restart. Thomson flicked on Kevin Street’s free-kick but the big defender sent a free header over the bar.

The home side almost made Rangers pay as the diving Williams did well to punch away another well-struck free-kick from Whitcombe that looked to be heading for the net.

Grayson also fired wide on two occasions but, during the second half, Rangers were forced to work hard. Substitute Nathan Smith forced Anstiss to push away a low shot at his near post.

Late in the game, Smith lost possession inside the Redditch area and allowed Michael McGrath to break upfield. The ball ended up with Rory May whose deflected shot was, thankfully, gathered up by Williams and Rangers fans breathed a huge sight of relief.

Phil Robinson felt afterwards that the win had been earned at a difficult place to get a result. He said: “We probably didn’t play our best football but we weren’t allowed to and the conditions didn’t allow that. What we wanted to do was come here and be solid and pick up a victory, which we have done. I’m delighted with that.”

Redditch United: Anstiss, King, Whitcombe, Rea, Creighton, Field (Scheppel, 65), Hollis, Taylor (May, 74), Wilding, Doyle (McGrath, 74), Palmer. Unused subs: Vaughan, Murphy.

Stafford Rangers: Williams, Groves, Talbott, McAughtrie, Daniel, Lovatt, Reid, Street, Grayson, Thomson (Smith, 62), R. Gibson. Unused subs: Murray, Walker, Downes, Edwards.

Referee: C. Grundy (Sheffield).

Stafford Rangers 2 Forest Green Rovers 1

Saturday 4th February 2006
Stafford Rangers 2 Forest Green Rovers 1
FA Carlsberg Trophy Third Round
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 1178

Stafford Rangers thoroughly deserved to claim a second Nationwide Conference scalp in as many rounds from this very tight game.

The Nationwide North leaders took the lead early on through Craig Lovatt and veteran Neil Grayson scored the winner in the second half after Guy Madjo levelled moments just before the interval.

Delighted Phil Robinson, the first manager to lead Stafford into the quarter finals for 16 years, said: “Fair play to our lads. They stood up to a very physical and strong team, and over the course of 90 minutes deserved to win the game.”

Rangers went ahead on 12 minutes in their first serious attack with a superb finish. Receiving a pass from Robin Gibson, Kevin Street cleverly lifted the ball over the visiting defence into the path of long-serving Lovatt who volleyed home from twelve yards out.

Madjo and Johnnie Hayes both wasted good chances before Stafford survived a scare on 34 minutes. A long ball from Sekani Simpson rebounded off the left-hand post.

However, Forest Green eventually turned pressure into an equaliser in first-half injury time. Alsop headed a long ball down to Madjo who lifted the ball home.

Lovatt headed wide at the start of the second half but it wasn’t long before Stafford got back in front on 54 minutes. Street, inside the area on the left, fired towards the far post. The diving Clarke could only push the ball to Grayson and the ball rebounded into the net.

Forest Green threw plenty of bodies into attack but found the tightest Nationwide North defence in no mood to concede.

Dean Williams, like Grayson playing against his former club, pulled off three great saves during the last 14 minutes. He blocked a near-post shot from Madjo and also tipped over efforts from Bruno Teixeira and Hayes.

Grayson could have put the result beyond doubt when he blasted over after receiving the ball from Robin Gibson.

Dramatically, with seconds remaining in injury time, substitute Teixeria was inches away from an equaliser. He slid in at the far post and just failed to get on the end of a shot from Alex Meechan across the face of goal.

Star Man: Kevin Street (Stafford)
Entertainment: 3.

Star Man: Kevin Street.
Entertainment: 3 out of 5.

Stafford Rangers: Williams, Groves, Talbott, McAughtrie, Daniel, Lovatt, Murray, Street, Grayson, Thomson, R. Gibson. Unused subs: Reid, Smith, Walker, Downes, Edwards.

Forest Green Rovers: Clarke, Simpson, Sall, Graham, Searle (Bessley, 66), Meechan, Wanless, Gadsby (Teixeira, 82), Hayes, Alsop, Madjo. Unused subs: Garner, Harrison, Rendell.

Goals: Lovatt (12), Madjo (45), Grayson (54).

Bookings: Hayes (FGR, 75).

Referee: R. Fletcher (Derby).