Saturday 25th February 2007

St Albans City 0 Stafford Rangers 3
Nationwide Conference
At: -
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 883

Stafford Rangers moved up to 16th position with a fine victory from a game important to both sides.

Robert Duggan made his debut on an initial seven-day emergency loan from Stoke City with both Danny Alcock and Dean Williams not fully fit.

Rangers forced their second corner in the 15th minute and this led to the opening goal. The ball eventually ended up at the feet of David McNiven out on the left who crossed to the far post. Grayson and defender Gary Elphick failed to make contact with the ball which dropped at the far post for McAughtrie to force home.

Stafford extended their advantage five minute later, again with the help of poor defending. This time it was Nathan Talbott who crossed from the left into the area where the veteran Grayson netted his first goal for over three months.

St Albans midfielder Malik Buari was guilty of missing three good chances to get his side back into contention before the interval.

At the start of the second half, Grayson had a header cleared off the line and at the other end Duggan pulled off a fine save to deny Ram Marwa.

Rangers continued to work hard and kept things tight at the back and Grayson rounded of Stafford’s 6th away league win of the season in injury time. Bastock got a hand to Robin Gibson’s initial shot and the veteran followed up to head home his 11th league goal of the season.

“It was a good victory from an important game for both teams,” said Phil Robinson. “We certainly did it with a solid performance and we defended well. At times we played some good football and created some good chances.”

St Albans City (yellow/yellow/yellow): Paul Bastock, Patrick Ada, Gary Elphick, Djoumin Sangare, Ahmed Deen, Malik Buari, Ram Marwa, Tom Davis, Chris Watters, Lee Clarke (capt), Leon Archer. Subs: Dean Cracknell (for Marwa, 61), Matt Hann (for Watters, 61), Chris Seeby, Ricky Perks, Faly Basse.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes/black/black): Robert Duggan, Alex Gibson, Wayne Daniel (capt), Craig McAughtrie, Nathan Talbott, Robin Gibson, Ged Murphy, Anthony Griffith, Levi Reid, David McNiven, Neil Grayson. Subs: Craig Lovatt (for Reid, 66), Guy Madjo (for McNiven, 74), Danny Edwards, David Oldfield, Liam Murray.

Referee: Keith Yeo (Essex).
Attendance: 883 (inc 113 away fans).

Tuesday 20th February 2007

Stafford Rangers 1 Stevenage Borough 3
Nationwide Conference
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 653

Stafford Rangers put in an encouraging performance against in-form Stevenage but couldn’t prevent the visitors from recording a ‘double’ like Halifax.

Just like the previous Saturday, David McNiven put Rangers ahead with a well-taken goal. In the 15th minute, he received a pass from Richie Sutton and sent a low shot under the body of the diving Alan Julian to score the fourth goal of his spell on loan from Morecambe.

However, Stevenage got back on level terms three minutes later. Steve Morison, on the edge of the area, lifted the ball up with his boot and sent a dipping volley over Danny Alcock and in via the underside of the bar.

The visitors took the lead with a spectacular goal in the 41st minute from a free kick awarded just outside the Stafford area. Mark Hughes accurately curled the ball over the wall and straight into the top right-hand corner of the net.

Rangers certainly didn’t deserve to go in trailing at half-time and were forced to replace injured Lovatt with Ged Murphy before the second half got underway.

Stafford kept trying. McNiven and Grayson exchanged a one-two, which came to nothing. McAughtrie also headed over from Levi Reid’s corner.

However, Stevenage responded with a vital third goal in the 66th minute. Much-travelled former England winger Steve Guppy crossed deep from the left and Morison forced home his second goal of the game.

Sutton was sent off injury time after receiving the second of two bookings.

“We got off to a good start and I thought overall in the first half we played with some commitment,” commented Phil Robinson in his post-match Press Conference.

“We stopped them playing and at times we played some good stuff. We scored a goal and had other opportunities with David McNiven looking like he might score another.

“We got in good areas but it was one of those nights where they hit two wonder strikes in the first half that have gone in.”

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes/black/black): Danny Alcock, Richie Sutton, Wayne Daniel (capt), Craig McAughtrie, Nathan Talbott, Robin Gibson, Craig Lovatt, Griffith, Reid, Grayson, McNiven. Subs: Ged Murphy (for Lovatt, ht), Danny Edwards (for R. Gibson, 82), Sean Ridgway (for Reid, 82), Dean Williams, Liam Murray.

Stevenage Borough (blue/blue/blue): Alan Julian, Barry Fuller, Ronnie Henry (capt), Santos Gaia, John Nutter, Jon Nurse, Mark Beard, Mark Hughes, Daryl McMahon, Steve Guppy, Steve Morison. Subs: Craig Dobson (for Nurse, 74), Mitchell Cole (for Guppy, 74), Danny Potter, Luke Oliver, Paul Hakim.

Sponsors Man of the Match: Anthony Griffith.

Referee: R. Wigglesworth (South Yorkshire).
Attendance: 653 (inc 99 away fans).

Saturday 17th February 2007

Stafford Rangers 2 Halifax Town 3
Nationwide Conference
At: Marston Road
Attendance: 1062

Three first-half goals did the damage as Halifax Town recorded a ‘double’ over Rangers. After David McNiven had put Stafford ahead, Darryn Stamp, Felix Bastians and Neal Trotman all found the net for the visitors before the interval. McNiven reduced the deficit in the second half but Boro couldn’t find an equaliser.

Stafford quickly took the lead in the 7th minute shortly after Halifax central defender Adam Quinn’s departure. Visiting goalkeeper Craig Mawson failed to make contact with Richie Sutton’s hanging right-wing cross and left McNiven the task to slot home at close range.

Chances were scare during the opening quarter with the Stafford defence proving difficult to penetrate. However, that all changed in the 25th minute when Halifax got back on level terms. Stamp drilled home his fourth goal in five game since joining the Shaymen following goof work down the left by Bastians.

Halifax unlocked the Stafford defence again seven minute later. Defender Liam Murray blocked an initial shot from Danny Forrest and Bastians steered the rebound wide of the diving Danny Alcock.

Anthony Griffith saw a well-struck shot cannon off Trotman for a corner in a good spell of pressure from Stafford. And were awarded a penalty in the 44th minute. Mawson brought down Guy Madjo inside the area but kept out McNiven’s spot kick.

Halifax further extended their lead in stoppage time. Trotman ran in to head home direct from Tom Kearney’s corner.

McNiven found the net again with a second goal in the 69th minute. Levi Reid, Madjo and Nathan Talbott were all involved in the move which the striker finished off by hooking the ball home via the right-hand post.

Rangers continued their fight all the way to the end with McNiven having a shot blocked and Ryan Cresswell doing well to thwart Madjo.

Phil Robinson said: “(After trailing 3-1 at the interval) the players gave it everything to try and get back. They dominated the second period, created a number of chances, scored one goal but couldn’t manage to get the other one.”

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes/black/black): Danny Alcock, Alex Gibson, Wayne Daniel (capt), Liam Murray, Nathan Talbott, Richie Sutton, Anthony Griffith, Ged Murphy, Levi Reid, David McNiven, Guy Madjo. Subs: Robin Gibson (for A. Gibson, 60), Neil Grayson (for Griffith, 60), Dean Williams, Sean Ridgway, Danny Edwards.

Halifax Town (orange/white/white): Craig Mawson, Gus Uhlenbeek, Neal Trotman, Adam Quinn, Matt Doughty, Lewis Kileen, Tom Kearney (capt), Tyrone Thompson, Felix Bastians, Danny Forrest, Darryn Stamp. Subs: Ryan Cresswell (for Quinn, 6), Shane Smeltz (for Stamp, 60), Chris Billy (for Bastians, 81), Steve Haslam, Lionel Ainsworth.

Sponsors Man of the Match: David McNiven

Referee: Colin Harwood (Manchester).
Attendance: 1,062 (inc 276 away fans).

Thursday 15th February 2007

AFC Telford United Reserves 4 Stafford Rangers 0
Central Conference
At: New Bucks Head Ground
Kick-off 7-45 pm
Programme: free teamsheet
Attendance: 40 (headcount)
Weather: mild, dry
Duration: first half: 45:30; second half: 45:00

Even though it isn't a 'new' ground, I've been looking forward to visiting the newly-built New Bucks Head Ground and this evening's Reserve team game provided the perfect opportunity. If the opposition was anyone other than Stafford Rangers then I'd never consider ticking off a new (or completely rebuilt) ground for a Reserve team fixture like this one. But I made a exception tonight. Of course, I'd made a number of visits to the old Bucks Head over the years before it was demolished and rebuilt on almost the same footprint.

The new ground boasts a large seated main stand down the western side of the ground with large areas of covered terracing behind each goal. Over on the far touchline was an area of open terracing.

Stafford (wearing all red) got the game underway attacking the Frank Nagington Stand in the first half - left to right in relation to my seat in the main stand - and created a decent chance inside the first minute. A dipping 30-yard shot from Sean Ridgway not missing the AFC Telford goal by much. Home midfielder Ben Twigger also sent a well-struck shot flashing past the Stafford left-hand post from 20 yards out.

Fielding a very strong side including former Boro defender Richard Beale and well-known midfielder Jai Stanley, Telford enjoyed plenty of possession. Gary Birch pulled the ball back for strike partner Lee Moore who couldn’t get on the end. Jemiah Richards did well to prevent Birch getting in a shot while Jack Thorley got in the way of another shot from Birch. Jimmy Turner sent a well-struck drive inches wide of the Boro goal guarded by fit-again Dean Williams.

AFC Telford took the lead in the 38th minute. Moore latched on to a ball down the right from Twigger and sent a low shot into the opposite corner of the net out of reach of Williams. Moore doubled the lead four minutes later. He picked up a ball over the top from Turner and shot past Williams.

Stafford looked to get back into the game after interval and around the hour mark, Carl Motteram fired over after Ridgway’s initial shot was blocked. Christian Dacres also tried his luck with two efforts from well outside the area.

But Telford responded with a third goal in the 73rd minute. Substitute Indy Khela slotted home at close range to end a move involving Beale and Birch. The home side wrapped up the scoring in the 87th minute. Birch was finally rewarded with a goal after picking up Khela’s flick-on.

AFC Telford United Reserves (white / navy blue / navy blue): 1. Damien Stvens, 2. Elliott Durrell, 3. Richard Beale, 4. Richard Teesdale, 5. David Woodvine, 6. Jimmy Turner (capt), 7. Jai Stanley, 8. Adam Cain, 9. Lee Moore, 10. Gary Birch, 11. Ben Twigger. Subs: 12. Matthew Wood (for Beale, 83), 14. Indy Khela (for Durrell, 59), 15. Justin Marsden (not used), 16. Dean Craven (not used), 17. Tyrone Barnett (not used).

Stafford Rangers (red/red/red): 1. Dean Williams, 2. Dan Holgate, 3. Matt Skinner, 4. Christian Dacres, 5. Jemiah Richards (capt), 6. Jack Thorley, 7. Steve Hopkinson, 8. Sean Ridgway, 9. Richard Haynes, 10. Ricardo Wilks, 11. Carl Motteram, Subs: 12. Mike Weston (for Skinner, 51), 14. Spencer Gunnell (not used), 15. Andre Francis (for Hopkinson, 51), 16. Steve Bibby (for Wilks, 77), Lee Scott (not used).

Referee: Terry Holbrook.

1-0 Lee Moore (38)
2-0 Lee Moore (42)
3-0 Indy Khela (73)
4-0 Gary Birch (87)

Tuesday 13th February 2007

Castleton Gabriels 1 Chadderton 1
Moore & Co North West Counties League Division 2
At: Butterworth Park
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 62
Weather: Heavy rain
Duration: first half: 46:47; second half 48:15

Castleton Gabriels (blue and white stripes / white / white): not known!

Chadderton (red / red / red): Lee Swanson, David Glynn, Mark Davis, Ricky Wild, Lewis Edwards, Glyn Billington (capt), Nick Fraine, Ian Knapman, Gary Wright, Paul Ashton, Paul Socha. Subs: Ian Hulme (for Fraine, 69), Ryan Bailey (for Socha, 64), Andrew Fulham (for Billington, 88).

Referee: N. Greenhaugh

Saturday 10th February 2007

Weymouth 1 Stafford Rangers 2
Nationwide Conference
At: Wessex Stadium
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 1371

Stafford Rangers ended a run of four straight defeats thanks to a magnificent all-round team performance at financially troubled Weymouth.

Levi Reid and David McNiven both found the net, scoring their first goals for the club.

Manager Phil Robinson shuffled his pack and made four changes to his starting line-up with Alex Gibson, Reid, fit-again Ged Murphy and McNiven all coming into the side.

Stafford did the early attacking with Murphy firing over from well outside the area. He also set up a good chance for Craig Lovatt who couldn’t direct an effort on target.

Referee Andrew Rodda, who at times puzzled the crowd with his decisions, issued the first of eight yellow cards in the 7th minute to Weymouth’s Simon Weatherstone for taking a free kick too early!

Weymouth, without a win since Boxing Day and reeling from the loss of no fewer than eleven players in the January transfer window, suffered a further blow when experienced defender Trevor Challis limped of after just 15 minutes. The departure of the skipper certainly aided Stafford’s cause.

But the home side responded and Danny Alcock got down to hold a low drive from Weatherstone. Player-manager Jason Tindall also fired wide.

Stafford, however, broke the deadlock in the 25th minute. Alex Gibson sent a long ball upfield from inside the Rangers half which hit defender Ray O’Brien. The rebound fell kindly to Reid, 30-yards out, who hit a swerving first-time shot that deceived Terras keeper Jason Matthews on its way into the net.

However, Weymouth got back on level terms in the 41st minute after Mr Rodda made a decision which no doubt had a key bearing on the outcome. Stuart Beavon intercepted a weak backpass from midfielder Anthony Griffith (who otherwise had a superb game) and broke clear only to be brought down by Alcock inside the area. The keeper was booked and Tindall converted the resulting penalty.

Reid had a shot blocked before Stafford scored what proved to be the winner in first half stoppage time. Nick Crittenden, just outside the area. inexplicably helped a long ball into the path of McNiven who clinically slotted past Matthews.

Just before the half-time whistle, Alcock leapt to hold a rising shot from Matt Hartman.

After the incident-packed first half, there were no further goals but Rangers should perhaps have further extended their lead on several occasions, especially just before the hour mark.

Reid got past the lunge of Ashley Vickers to make progress down the left and crossed low to Guy Madjo who was denied a shooting chance by defender Narada Bernard.

McNiven broke clear in the next attack and fired across goal and wide of the far post with just Matthews to beat. Murphy also fired at the Weymouth keeper from well outside the area.

Nathan Talbott looked to set up another chance when he broke down the left. He crossed into the area towards unmarked Madjo, only for substitute Scott Dixon to clear the danger.

Referee Rodda dished out bookings at frequent intervals during the second half and as a result both Craig McAughtrie and Lovatt will both due to miss last Saturday’s home game with Halifax Town through suspension.

Phil Robinson, speaking after the game, said: “We felt recent performances have been good but haven’t been getting the rub of the green. Again the performance was very good today. Perhaps we could have made the scoreline a bit more comfortable for ourselves if more of the chances we created had been taken.

“It was important coming here that we were solid and prepared to work. The players certainly did that. The work rate and desire to get a result was excellent. It was pleasing for David McNiven to get on the scoresheet on his first start and also for Levi Reid, also with his first start this season.

“Weymouth still have some decent players. They gave Burton a difficult time (in their previous league game) so it was going to be a tough game against a decent team.”

Providing Weymouth view, Dorset Echo correspondent Adam Summers wrote: “Everything that could have gone against the Terras did on Saturday, but at the end they could only blame themselves for the two soft goals they conceded that cost them the game. Defenders Trevor Challis and Narada Bernard both limped off with injuries for the hosts but it was the refereeing performance of Andrew Rodda … that was the main talking point at the final whistle.”

Weymouth (claret/claret/sky blue): Jason Matthews, Nick Crittenden, Ashley Vickers, Trevor Challis (capt) (Roy O'Brien, 14), Narada Bernard (Scott Dixon, 59), James Coutts, Brian Dutton, Simon Weatherstone, Matt Hartman (Callum Ross-Jennings, 81), Jason Tindall, Stuart Beavon. Unused subs: Matt Baker, Bell.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes/black/black): Danny Alcock, Alex Gibson, Wayne Daniel (capt), Craig McAughtrie, Nathan Talbott, Ged Murphy (Robin Gibson, 85), Craig Lovatt, Anthony Griffith, Levi Reid, Guy Madjo, David McNiven. Unused subs: Sean Ridgway, Neil Grayson, Danny Edwards, Liam Murray.

Referee: A. Rodda (Devon).
Attendance: 1371.

Saturday 3rd February 2007

Stafford Rangers 0 Exeter City 1
Nationwide Conference
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 970

Stafford Rangers could not be faulted for effort but it was visitors Exeter City who took the points with a first-half winner scored by Lee Phillips.

Stafford boss Phil Robinson gave a debut to 20-year-old former Aldershot and Crawley midfielder Sean Ridgway who looked to make an immediate impact. He went for a goal with a low drive from well outside the area which had City’s recalled goalkeeper Paul Jones scrambling to his left to claim.

Anthony Griffith, playing his second game on loan, also tired his luck from outside the area but missed the target by a wide margin.

The first real chance of the game was created by the battling Guy Madjo on the quarter-hour mark. He had an initial effort blocked on the edge of the area by defender Steve Tully and got in a second shot which the diving Paul Jones turned round at the expense of the game’s first corner.

Exeter, on their first-ever visit to Marston Road, should have taken the lead in the 22nd minute. Wayne Carlisle found space on the right and delivered a low cross which Phillips drove over from no more than eight yards out with Daniel in close attention.

The Grecians stepped up their game and skipper Chris Todd headed wide at the far post from the third of three successive corners.

A defensive error led to Exeter scoring what proved to be the winner in the 29th minute. Lee Elam headed the ball forward to Phillips, marked by Daniel, who poked it into an empty net from well outside the area past Alcock who had rushed off his line.

The goal gave the visitors a boost and Elam and Phillips combined to set up Jon Challinor who saw a shot blocked.

City went agonisingly close to a second goal in the 38th minute. Carlisle beat the diving Alcock with a sweet drive only to see the ball rebound off the left-hand post.

Rangers had their goalkeeper to thank for a top-draw save four minutes later. Elam and Phillips were again involved as Challinor sent a rising drove heading for the top left corner. But Alcock leapt to his left to push the ball away to safety.

Just before the interval, Stafford were awarded a free kick 30 yards out for a foul on Grayson. Craig McAughtrie’s shot got through the wall but Paul Jones gathered up.

A groin injury picked up by Richie Sutton during the first half forced Robinson into a change at the interval. Ged Murphy came on and Griffith dropped to fill the vacant right-back spot.

Less than a minute after the restart, Challinor’s lob drop just over an unguarded net.

Rangers had a good appeal for a penalty turned down when Grayson went down under Todd’s challenge.

The Stafford manager also introduced another midfielder early in the second half. Levi Reid, who rejoined the club the previous day, and Murphy both had a positive impact on Stafford’s rallying second-half showing.

Levi Reid looks to beat Exeter’s Lee Elam

Doing plenty of attacking, Stafford had a better shout for a penalty also turned down after Paul Buckle appeared to handle inside the area.

The home side created the bulk of the chances and Reid drove inches wide from the edge of the area. Moments before being replaced by another new face, David McNiven on-loan from Morecambe, Danny Edwards fired across the face of goal and wide of the far post.

And McNiven almost scored with his first touch. From a position outside the area on the left, he got in a looping shot which the leaping Paul Jones did well to hold underneath the bar.

Murphy was the next man to go for goal with a left-foot shot that flew over the bar after good work by Madjo.

However, Exeter remained a threat and Challinor wasn’t too far wide with a first-time volley.

The lively Reid could have levelled in the 80th minute. McAughtrie knocked a long Griffith free kick into the path of the substitute but Billy Jones got in the way of a well-struck shot.

With time running out, Murphy’s long throw was headed down by Grayson to Reid who fired over from just outside the area.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes/black/black): Danny Alcock, Richie Sutton, Wayne Daniel (capt), Craig McAughtrie, Nathan Talbott, Anthony Griffith, Craig Lovatt, Sean Ridgway, Danny Edwards, Guy Madjo, Neil Grayson. Subs: Ged Murphy (for Sutton, ht), Levi Reid (for Ridgway, 50), David McNiven (for Edwards, 62), Robin Gibson, Liam Murray.

Exeter City (blue/blue/blue): Paul Jones, Steve Tully, Rob Edwards, Chris Todd (capt), Billy Jones, Wayne Carlisle, Paul Buckle, Matt Gill, Lee Elam, Jon Challinor, Lee Phillips. Subs: Bertrand Cozic (for Gill, 75), Martin Rice, Jamie Mackie, Jon Richardson, Richard Logan).

Referee: Paul Varley (West Yorkshire).
Attendance: 970 (inc 254 away fans).