Stafford Rangers 0 Ebbsfleet United 1

Saturday 29th December 2007
Stafford Rangers 0 Ebbsfleet United 1
Blue Square Premier
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 653 (106 away fans)
Weather: showers, windy

Stafford Rangers suffered more bad luck as visitors Ebbsfleet United took the points with a last gasp injury time winner. John Akinde slotted home from just a few yards out to deny Rangers what would have been a deserved point.

The Stafford side was unchanged as Djimi Sangare hadn't sufficiently recovered from his ankle injury to play any part. Luke Potter played his last game on loan from Barnsley.

There were two changes in personnel in the starting line-up with Seb Arnolin and Nathan Smith coming in to replace the departed Luke Potter and suspended Chris Flynn. With Djimi Sangare not sufficiently recovered from his ankle injury, joint caretaker player-manager Kevin Street moved from midfield to play on the left side of the defence. Dolapo Olaoye came on as a second-half substitute for his first taste of action since the opening day of the season.

Ebbsfleet got the game underway attacking the Social Club end with the aid off a strong and blustery wind. In the second minute, James Smith's backpass eluded Lance Cronin but nothing came from the resulting corner. The visitors also won an early corner after Jemiah Richards cut out a low cross from Chris McPhee. James Smith got his head to the corner which hit a defender and went out. In the 15th minute, Rangers were inches (and a gust of wind) away from taking the lead. David McNiven intercepted a poor pass from mark Ricketts and launched a lob from fully 30 yards out. The ball cleared Cronin and looked to be going into the unguarded net only to be blown the wrong side of the post.

There was a worrying moment for the home side when Akinde caught Danny Alcock with a late challenge as both went for a long clearance down the middle by Cronin. Akinde was booked for the foul. The Stafford keeper was able to continue and quickly pulled off a double save to deny both Akinde and Luke Moore.

Rangers continued to battle into the wind and were again unlucky not to score in the 26th minute. Neil Grayson may well have shot for goal but his misdirected effort fell kindly for Nathan Smith on the right inside the area. Smith got in a low drive which Cronin kept out with his boot.

Around the half-hour mark, Michael Bostwick, from out on the right crossed into the six-yard box and Wayne Daniel cleared the danger at the expense of a corner. Neil Barrett then tried his luck with a shot from well outside the area and the ball took a deflection on its way out for another corner. Richie Sutton got forward and drove over the Ebbsfleet bar from 20 yards out.

The visitors should have taken the lead in the 39th minute. McPhee got clear only to blast a shot high over the bar with just Alcock to beat. Before the interval, Bostwick sent a wind-assisted 25-yard free-kick over the bar and Stacy Long forced a routine save out of Alcock from 15 yards out.

Stafford took the game to the visitors in the second half and should have gone in front two minutes after the restart. Unmarked Grayson met a perfect cross from Nathan Smith only to head straight at Cronin from six yards out. On the hour, Frenchman Samy Mawene threaded a pass through the Ebbsfleet defence to McNiven. The striker hit a low angled shot which beat the diving Cronin and hit the outside of the left-hand post.

Ebbsfleet were always a thread on the break and got back into the game during the last half hour. Bostwick fired straight at Alcock from 15 yards out while McPhee saw another long-range effort deflected for a corner. Dolapo Olaoye came on to end a four-month absence through injury and set up a chance which Seb Hamilton drove wide from 25 yards out.

A draw would have been a fair outcome until Akinde stuck the very late winner.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes/black/black): 1. Danny Alcock; 2. Richard Sutton, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 21. Jemiah Richards, 8. Kevin Street; 15. Nathan Smith, 17. Ross Draper, 22. Samy Mawene, 19. Seb Arnolin; 10. David McNiven, 9. Neil Grayson. Subs: 30. Seb Hamilton (for Smith, 55), 11. Dolapo Olaoye (for Arnolin, 85), 16. Tom Ingram, 24. Steve Hopkinson, 33. Danny Allen (gk).

Ebbsfleet United (yellow/white/yellow): 1. Lance Cronin; 15. Mark Ricketts, 2. Peter Hawkins, 5. James Smith, 3. Sacha Opinel; 25. Michael Bostwick, 14. Neil Barrett, 8. Stacy Long; 12. Chris McPhee (capt); 18. Luke Moore, 19. John Akinde. Subs: 30. Rob French, 9. Raphael Nade, 16. Liam Coleman, 20. Dan Stubbs, 17. George Purcell.

Referee: Dean Moharab (Stockport)
Attendance: 653 (inc 106 away fans)

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Stafford Rangers 0 Burton Albion 3

Wednesday 26th December 2007
Stafford Rangers 0 Burton Albion 3
Blue Square Premier
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 1679
Weather: bright, dry, windy

Stafford never recovered from a three-goal blast from Burton in the closing stages of the first half following the dismissal of Chris Flynn. Mark Greaves opened the scoring in the 34th minute and Jake Edwards added two more just before the interval

The Stafford side was unchanged as Djimi Sangare hadn't sufficiently recovered from his ankle injury to play any part. Luke Potter played his last game on loan from Barnsley.

What was turning out to be a finally-balanced local derby turned dramatically in favour of Burton in the 27th minute. Chris Flynn had every right to go for a throughball played low into the area as Kevin Poole bravely raced off his line to dive at the feet of the Boro midfielder. With no intent to hurt the veteran keeper, Flynn caught Poole in the face with his boot and, perhaps, it was inevitable that the referee would provide a straight red card. Poole received treatment for a facial cut and was able to continue.

Burton took the lead in the 34th minute. John McGrath floated a free-kick from the left towards the far post which looked to be curling out. Mark Greaves somehow managed rise above Ross Draper to head across the face of goal from a very narrow angle and in at the far post.

The lead was doubled in the 44th minute again from a set piece. Jake Edwards met McGrath's inswinging corner delivered from the right with a glancing header which dropped in at the left-hand post.

Edwards struck again in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time. Again McGrath was the supplier with a near-post free-kick from the left which the striker stabbed home at close range. Play resumed for barely a second before the referee brought proceeding to a halt.

Rangers set out to keep a clean sheet in the second half and try and make inroads into Burton's three-goal lead. They succeeded with the clean sheet but were unlucky not to find the net.

Just after the hour mark, Neil Grayson was unlucky to see a shot cleared off the line and Wayne Daniel fired straight at Poole from 10 yards out.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes/black/black): 1. Danny Alcock; 2. Richie Sutton, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 21. Jemiah Richards, 32. Luke Potter; 8. Kevin Street, 22. Samy Mawene, 17. Ross Draper, 7. Chris Flynn; 10. David McNiven, 9. Neil Grayson. Subs: 30. Seb Hamilton (for Street, 76), 16. Tom Ingram (for Mawene, 80) ,24. Steve Hopkinson (for Draper, 88), 19. Sebastian Arnolin, 33. Danny Allen (gk).

Burton Albion (sky blue with white sleeves/sky blue/white): 1. Kevin Poole; 17. John Brayford, 4. Mark Greaves (capt), 5. Tony James, 3. Aaron Webster; 2, Andy Corbett, 24. Michael Simpson, 6. John McGrath, 18. Dave Farrell; 9. Jake Edwards, 14. Shaun Harrad. Subs: 7. Darren Stride (for Greaves, ht), 8. Marc Goodfellow (for Brayford, ht), 10. Daryl Clare (for Harrad, 65), Keith Gilroy, 30, Saul Deeney (gk).

Referee: G. J. Sutton (Lincoln)

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Stafford Rangers 0 York City 2

Saturday 22nd December 2007
Stafford Rangers 0 York City 2 (aet)
Setanta Shield Fourth Round
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 515 (72 away fans)
Weather: wet, dull

Stafford Rangers produced a hardworking and battling performance against York City in the Setanta Shield Fourth Round. But after neither side could break the deadlock in normal time, the visitors scored twice in extra time through Richard Brodie (99) and Onome Sodje (120). York face a home tie with either Barrow or Northwich in the next round.

There was just one change to the Stafford starting line-up with Jemiah Richards coming for Djimi Sangare who picked an ankle injury in training.

Stafford got the game underway in heavy rain attacking the Town End. Floodlights were on from the start to cut through the gloom.

York won an early corner, delivered from the right by Ben Purkiss which the leaping Danny Alcock caught cleanly.

The visitors had the first attempt on goal when Emmanuel Panther hit a low shot from the edge of the area which missed the target at the near post.

Defender Darren Kelly was forced to concede a corner by David McNiven, from which Wayne Daniel got his head to but couldn't direct on target.

On the quarter hour, Luke Potter, on the left, found Neil Grayson inside the area who hammered a left-foot shot just wide.

Chances started to come more frequently. Onome Sodje pulled the ball back for Martyn Woolford to fire over from 20 yards out.

Richie Sutton delivered a deep cross from the right to the far post where Chris Flynn did well to get on a header which flew wide.

Midway through the half, Craig Farrell stayed onside and got into the Boro area. His initial shot was blocked by Sutton and Daniel got in the way of a follow-up effort from Woolford. In the next attack, Farrell shot straight at Alcock.

York continued to enjoy a good spell of pressure and a deflected 25-yard shot from Woolford ended up in Alcock's arms.

Sodje got clear only for Daniel to get back and initially halt the progress of the York forward. Sodje managed to get in a near-post shot which Alcock turned round.

Stafford started to press forward and around the half-hour mark, Samy Mawene hit a long-range shot which Tom Evans failed to hold and the ball was hurriedly cleared. From the resulting corner, Jemiah Richards saw a header cleared off the line.

Stuart Elliott tried his luck from well outside the area, sending his well-struck shot high over the bar. Sodje set up Farrell who fired straight at the well-positioned Alcock.

Rangers were awarded a free-kick some 35 yards out which Mawene drove narrowly wide through a crowded area.

In the 39th minute, Mawene took the ball forward down the middle, fed Grayson who crossed into the area where McNiven fired over.

Less than a minute after the restart, Alcock pulled off an outstanding save to push away a rising shot from Panther than appeared destined for the top-left corner.

Alcock excelled again three minutes later, this time to turn round a rising drive hit by Woolford from just outside the area. Panther's shot, also from outside the area, hit Farrell and looped away to safety.

Stafford got forward and almost took the lead in the 53rd minute. Street sliced open the York defence with a one-two with McNiven, only to see his close-rang shot kept out by the legs of Evans.

Ross Draper got in another shot which took a deflection and went out for another corner. Daniel got in a header which was played back to corner taker Mawene who sent a low shot narrowly wide of the near post.

Good vocal support gave the boys plenty of encouragement. Potter was next to go for goal. He cut in from the left and sent a curling right-foot shot dipping just over the bar. As the action hotted up, Daniel produced a fine tackle to prevent Sodje from getting in a shot. On the hour, Daniel blocked Woolford's 25-yard shot.

Stafford again went close to breaking the deadlock. Mawene's long ball from the Rangers half bounced just outside the York area where Grayson lifted it over Evans who had raced off his line. But Evans had made the chance difficult and the ball drifted wide.

In what was a good Rangers spell, Potter found Grayson who laid the ball into the path of Street. He got in a shot on target but straight at Evans.

Substitute Richard Brodie forced a save out of Alcock and also sent a header wide. Sodje fired well wide of the target.

In the 84th minute, Evans failed to hold a hanging cross from Mawene and McNiven hooked the loose ball over the bar. But the referee may well have awarded a free-kick for a push on Evans.

With the game heading for extra time, Purkiss got in a near-post header across the face of goal which Flynn blocked on the line. Alcock tipped over another shot from Sodje.

Just as they did a couple of hours earlier, Stafford kicked off attacking the Town End. The was early danger for Rangers. Brodie broke down the right and crossed low towards the far post where Sodje was lurking. But Sutton cut out the cross at the expense of a corner. York took the lead in the 99th minute. Brodie fired past Alcock from 15 yards out. Sodje almost doubled the lead three minutes later. He cut in from the right and got in a low shot which Alcock kept out with his legs at the near post.

In the second period, Grayson had a couple of half chances to level things up. Alcock pulled off another good save to beat away Brodie's shot. Mawene went for goal from near the right corner of the area and sent his shot fizzing across the face of the York goal. With Stafford throwing men forward, Sodje got clear on the break and hammered a shot past Alcock to scored York's clinching second goal.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes/black/black): 1. Danny Alcock; 2. Richie Sutton, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 21. Jemiah Richards, 32. Luke Potter; 8. Kevin Street, 22. Samy Mawene, 17. Ross Draper, 7. Chris Flynn; 10. David McNiven, 9. Neil Grayson. Subs: 19. Sebastian Arnolin (for Draper, 77), 30. Seb Hamilton (for McNiven, 95), 24. Steve Hopkinson (for Street, 119), 16. Tom Ingram, 33. Danny Allen (gk).

York City (yellow/blue/yellow): 1. Tom Evans; 6. Daniel Parslow, 25. Darren Kelly, 2. Darren Craddock; 23. Ben Purkiss, 8. Emmanuel Panther (capt), 11. Martyn Woolford, 4. Stuart Elliott, 24. Anthony Lloyd; 10. Craig Farrell, 7. Onome Sodje. Subs: 16. Richard Brodie (for Farrell, 61), 22. Nicky Wroe (for Woolford, 70). 13. Josh Mimms, 12. Chris Beardsley, 28. Andy McWilliams.

Referee: P. E. Curry (Northumberland)

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Stafford Rangers 3 Ossett Town 1

Saturday 15th December 2007
Stafford Rangers 3 Ossett Town 1
FA Carlsberg Trophy First Round
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 521 (28 away fans)
Weather: cold, dry
Duration: first-half: 49:19; second-half: 50:00

Stafford Rangers had plenty of reasons to celebrate after recording a comfortable victory over Ossett Town to progress into the FA Carlsberg Trophy Second Round. Two first-half goals from David McNiven and a third after the break from Neil Grayson ensured Stafford won their first game anywhere since mid-September and earned their first victory at Marston Road for eight months. The £4,000 prize money will come in handy as well.

There was one change to the starting line-up with Kevin Street returning from injury for his first game in four weeks. Nathan Smith was missing with the hamstring injury he picked up at Aldershot. Fit-again Seb Hamilton came on as a substitute during the second half having not featured since the Tamworth Staffs Senior Cup tie.

Attacking the Town End, Rangers got straight on the attack against a side in 9th position in the Unibond League Premier Division. From 32 yards out, Samy Mawene sent a free-kick over the wall but straight into the arms of well-positioned Piotr Skiba.

Stafford took the lead in the 6th minute thanks to a great finish from McNiven. Richard Sutton played a lofted forward ball forward from the right and McNiven wrong footed Skiba with a first-time glancing header from just inside the area.

Ossett quickly responded. Djimi Sanagre brought down James Walshaw just outside the Stafford area and Robert O'Brien's free-kick hit the wall. O'Brien got down the right and crossed into the area where Aiden Savory headed wide.

In the 13th minute, Street set up Ross Draper who lifted his 25-yard shot over the bar. Luke Potter delivered a low cross from the left towards the far post which eluded McNiven and Skiba gathered up.

Stafford continued to create the better chances and Street cut in from the right before sending a right-foot shot just over the bar. Grayson picked up a pass from McNiven but his shot was cut out by Robert Tonks.

Just before the half-hour mark, O'Brien saw a shot blocked by Potter during a scramble inside the Stafford area.

Stafford appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty when Mawene's right-wing cross, aimed for McNiven, struck Ossett skipper David Briggs.

The visitors enjoyed a good spell of pressure as the interval approached without seriously troubling Danny Alcock. O'Brien crossed deep to the far left post where Marc Thompson ran in to fire wide from just a few yards out. Alcock safely gathered Carl Fothergill's looping header from Thompson's cross. Savory hammered a rising shot over the bar from 25 yards while Alcock did well to hold a serving long-range effort from Fothergill.

However, Stafford doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time. McNiven converted a low right-wing cross from Mawene to score his 6th goal of the season.

Rangers looked to put Ossett under pressure at the start of the second half and prevent the visitors getting forward. After David Briggs fouled Grayson, Mawene's free-kick took a deflection off a defender and flew over the bar. Wayne Daniel headed wide from the resulting corner.

Potter enjoyed a mazy run past several defenders before his progress was halted just outside the Ossett area. Having played advantage, the referee awarded a free-kick for an attempted trip which Chris Flynn drove against the wall. The rebound fell to Potter who dove over from well outside the area.

Just before the hour mark, Flynn sent a volley wide of the near left post and Street appealed for a penalty after he went down inside the area.

Ossett also appealed for a penalty when Walshaw picked up a pass from Fothergill and went down under Sutton's challenge.

Flynn was fouled by Lee Pugh and Street drove wide after his initial free-kick, delivered into the area, was cleared.

Fothergill fired wide from a narrow angle as the visitors tried to reduce the deficit.

A horrendous error by Briggs gifted Stafford a third goal in the 75th minute. With Skiba out of his goal, the defender cleared straight to McNiven who sent a free header against the post. Grayson kept his cool to hammer home the rebound and extinguish any doubt about the outcome. Like McNiven had earlier, Grayson took his tally for the season to six goals.

Alcock pulled off a fine save three minutes later to turn round Savory's right-foot free-kick hit past the wall from 20 yards out.

Ossett pulled a goal back in the 86th minute. O'Brien tapped in at close range after good work by Walshaw who took the ball into the area.

There was further danger. A quickly-taken free-kick allowed Ben Hardy to get into the area where Sangare produced a fine saving tackle to prevent the Ossett substitute from getting in a shot.

In injury time, there was one further Rangers chance. Street lofted the ball forward and Skiba held Grayson's looping header.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes/black/black): 1. Danny Alcock; 2. Richie Sutton, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Djoumin Sangare, 32. Luke Potter; 8. Kevin Street, 22. Samy Mawene, 17. Ross Draper, 7. Chris Flynn; 10. David McNiven, 9. Neil Grayson. Subs: 30. Seb Hamilton (for Mawene, 64), 16. Tom Ingram (for Sutton, 76), 21. Jemiah Richards, 24. Steve Hopkinson, 33. Danny Allen (gk).<

Ossett Town (red/red/red): 1. Piotr Skiba; 2. Robert Tonks, 6. David Meadowcroft, 5. David Briggs (capt), 3. Lee Stratford; 7. Robert O'Brien, 4. Lee Pugh, 8. Aiden Savory, 11. Marc Thompson; 9. Carl Fothergill, 10. James Walshaw. Subs: 12. Scott Jackson (for Thompson, 76), 14. Ben Hardy (for Fothergill, 76), 15. Jonathan Hedge, 16. Sam Jackson, 17. Gareth Stoke.

Referee: P. C. Wright (Southport).
Assistants: S. A. Oldham (Poulton) and D. C. Holloway (Fleetwood).
Fourth Official: T. Comway (Bamber Bridge).

Man of the Match: Wayne Daniel.

This match report was originally written for and published on the now defunct

Aldershot Town 4 Stafford Rangers 3

Saturday 8th December 2007
Aldershot Town 4 Stafford Rangers 3
Blue Square Premier
At: Recreation Ground
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 2669
Weather: overcast, rain before and during game
Duration: first-half: 47:22; second-half: 49:29

Stafford Rangers scored three times in this thrilling encounter away to the Blue Square Premier League leader but were denied a share of the spoils by a late winner from Aldershot. David McNiven (8 mins) put Boro in front but the home side hit back with goals from Louis Soares (10) and John Grant (20). Chris Flynn (34) levelled things up with his first Rangers goal only for Shots to regain the lead just before the interval through Jonny Dixon (42). Joint caretaker manager Neil Grayson (67) equalised with a long-range lob. However, Aldershot took the points and extended their lead at the top with Scott Davies' free-kick (78) thought Rangers were unlucky to see Wayne Daniel's later header cleared from in front of the home goal.

Stafford made two changes. Danny Alcock returned in goal and Nathan Smith started in a three-pronged attack in place of former loanees Scott Loach and Chris Humphrey. Young keeper Danny Allen was named on the bench for the first time.

Stafford, who kicked off attacking the covered north end of the Recreation Ground, took the lead in the 8th minute when David McNiven lobbed Aldershot keeper Nikki Bull from 20 yards out. The ball went in via the underside of the bar to provide the perfect start against the Blue Square Premier table-topper who started the day four points clear.

However, Aldershot quickly hit back and equalised two minutes later in the 10th minute. JohnGrant got forward down the right and squared a pass to Louis Soares who sent a rising shot into the top-left corner from 20 yards out.

Rangers were forced to make a change in the 16th minute when Nathan Smith limped off and Seb Arnolin came on for his first appearance since returning for a spell on loan at Hednesford Town.

Both sides wanted to attack at every opportunity and the crowd were entertained throughout on what was a wet and cold afternoon in north Hampshire.

The home side edged in front in the 20th minute. John Grant latched onto a throughball down the middle and fired past the unlucky Danny Alcock. The diving keeper got his hand to the ball but couldn't prevent it going into the bottom-left corner of the net.

Rangers survived a couple of scares either side of the half-hour mark. Djimi Sangare required treatment and fortunately was able to complete the game. John Grant almost intercepted a backpass from skipper Wayne Daniel but Alcock left his line to boot the ball clear.

After the rain and drizzle stopped, which had seriously put the game in danger of not started, Rangers equalised in the 34th minute thanks to a well worked move involving McNiven and Arnolin. Chris Flynn raced forward into the area from the left to latch onto a pass from Arnolin and finished with an angled shot across goal straight into the bottom right corner. Game on.

Alcock pulled off a superb diving save in the 42nd minute to round a low drive from Joes Grant. But Rangers were out of luck from the corner. The ball, delivered to the far post by Soares, was headed back by Ricky Newman for Jonny Dixon to head home at close range.

Moments later, Soares fired wide of the near post from the right as the home side looked to score again.

Rain again fell at the start of the second half and Ross Draper fed Arnolin who fired wide.

Stafford survived a strong penalty appeal when Joel Grant went down under Richie Sutton's challenge but referee Amy Rayner waived play on.

John Grant became the first player to be booked when Rayner flashed a yellow card in the 53rd minute for a foul on Samy Mawene.

On the hour, Anthony Charles slipped inside the area and presented a chance to McNiven. Before the striker could get in a shot. Lewis Chalmers slid in to block at the expense of a corner.

Rangers got back on level terms again in the 67th minute. McNiven fed Grayson who launched a lob from fully 30 yards out which sailed over Bull and dropped with pinpoint accuracy into the unguarded net.

The home side responded with a double change that saw the introduction of eventual match winner Scott Davies and Kirk Hudson.

Sangare was forced to concede a corner when he got in the way of a shot from Hudson. Dixon then almost scored his second goal of the game with a curling shot that missed the top right corner by inches.

Aldershot scored what proved to be the winner a minute later in the 76th minute. Sutton brought down John Grant inside the 'D' and Davies stepped up to fire the free-kick into the bottom left corner with aid of a deflection off the six-man wall.

Rangers werent finished and press forward in search of yet another equalsier. And they almost succeeded.

Daniel got his head to Arnolin's corner only to see his effort cleared from in front of goal.

After Steve Hopkinson replaced the injured Mawene, McNiven was also unlucky in the 86th minute. His low shot beat the diving Bull and agonisingly ended up the wrong side of the left-hand post.

After the final whistle, fans from both sides applauded their heroes after seeing what was nothing short of a 'five star' match. Of course, there were boos directed towards the referee from the home side but, then again, 'panto season' is just around the corner. She smiled, and made what must have been a humorous remark to the assistants, as she left the field after what was a good performance in difficult conditions.

If Stafford came repeat this attacking endeavour at Marston Road, fans will be flocking back to Marston Road once news spreads and this relegation battle is far from over.

Aldershot Town (red/red/red): 1. Nikki Bull; 20. Robert Gier, Anthony Charles, 4. Ricky Newman (capt), 3. Anthony Straker; 23. Joel Grant, 7. Louis Soares, 8. Lewis Chalmers, 19. Ben Harding; 9. John Grant, 12. Jonny Dixon. Subs: 1. Scott Davies (for Soares, 71), 17. Kirk Hudson (for Joel Grant, 71), 10. Rob Elvins (for Dixon, 90), 18. Dave Winfield, 22 Mikhael Jaimez Ruiz

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes with black sleeves / black / black): 1. Danny Alcock; 2. Richard Sutton, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Djimi Sangare, 32. Luke Potter; 22. Samy Mawene, 17. Ross Draper, 7. Chris Flynn; 15. Nathan Smith, 9. Neil Grayson, 10. David McNiven. Subs: 19. Sebastian Arnolin (for Smith, 16), 24. Steve Hopkinson (for Mawene, 84), 16. Tom Ingram, 21. Jemiah Richards, 33. Danny Allen (gk)

Referee: Amy Rayner (Leicestershire).
Assistants: M. A. Bingham and A. Coggins.
Fourth Official: G. Muge.

0-1 David McNiven (8)
1-1 Louis Soares (10)
2-1 John Grant (20)
2-2 Chris Flynn (34)
3-2 Jonny Dixon (42)
3-3 Neil Grayson (67)
4-3 Scott Davies (78)
Man of the Match: Jonny Dixon.

Aldershot: John Grant (YC, 53)
Stafford: Richie Sutton (YC, 84)

This match report was originally written for and published on the now defunct

Speaking after the game, Neil Grayson said: "To come away with nothing is disappointing but the lads know what we can do now.

"We can take a lot of positives from the game. In training we need to work on things that cost us a couple of goals and be tighter next week.

"We had a talk on the pitch at the end of the game. We were obviously all upset not to have won. But every single player was saying 'we know what to do now, know what we are capable of doing' and now they need to repeat it week in week out."

"I'm enjoying management at the moment. We had a good performance as well last week so the job looks good while everything is going right so I might fancy the job.

"Being the player-manager is all right. During the game, I may be shout a bit more than I have done. Before and after the game I do think a lot more about team selection and set pieces. When I am playing, I just get on with the game."

Stafford Rangers 0 Northwich Victoria 0

Saturday 1st December 2007
Stafford Rangers 0 Northwich Victoria 0
Blue Square Premier
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00pm
Attendance: 886 (233 away fans)
Weather: Weather: overcast, rain at kick-off
Duration: first-half:

Following the shock of long-serving Phil Robinson's departure as manager, Stafford Rangers began a new era under joint caretakers, Neil Grayson and Kevin Street, with a goalless draw. Goalkeeper Scott Loach starred for Stafford with a series of fine saves to earn a first clean sheet of the season. Grayson was unlucky to be on the receiving end of three fine saves from Vics' Scott Tynan while David McNiven hit the woodwork in the second half.

There were three changes to the Stafford starting line-up. Fred Murray and Kevin Street were both missing through injury so Ross Draper and Samy Mawene were recalled. Neil Grayson. a substitute at Ebbsfleet last Saturday, started alongside David McNiven.

Visitors Northwich, who won their first game last Saturday, created a few early chances. Luke Horrocks found Lucas Akins on the edge of the area who fired an angled shot across the face of goal and wide of the far left-hand post. Chris Flynn fouled Williams 30 yards out and Michael Welch send a deflected drive wide from the free-kick.

Scott Loach, playing his last game on loan from Watford, was called into action in the 8th minute to gather up a low shot from Williams hit from just outside the area. Akins nipped in at the near post to fire wide from Williams' pass as the visitors again went close.

With Kevin Street running the team from the technical area, Chris Humphrey won the game's first corner for Stafford but it unfortunately came to nothing.

The crowd, which had been subdued during the opening 24 minutes, came to life. The referee decided not to award a free-kick for a challenge on Humphrey in front of the nose of assistant and fans were upset.

Moments later, Flynn's shot was blocked inside the area and the loose ball fell to Grayson lurking around the penalty spot. The veteran went for goal and Tynan turned over a rising well struck drive. Djimi Sangare was booked in the 31st minute for a foul on Lee Steele. After Horrocks fired across the face of the Boro goal, Rangers went close again in the 35th minute. Grayson was picked out by David McNiven but the low shot was pushed clear by the diving Tynan.

Northwich were forced to make a change in the 40th minute when Adam Morning replaced Horrocks who suffered a knee injury a few minutes before going for a 50-50 ball with Ross Draper.

Just before the interval, Loach pulled off a fantastic save to prevent the visitors going ahead. From a long throw on the right by Simon Rusk, the ball was cleared to Natt Kerr on the edge of the area. Kerr hit a sweet volley which Loach kept out and Grayson hurridly cleared the loose ball for a corner.

Sangare, who required treatment towards the end of the first half, didn’t emerge after the interval and was replaced by Jemiah Richards.

Northwich had Josh Wilson booked in the 53rd minute for a foul on Luke Potter. The visitors won another corner and, from it, central defender Welch rose at the far post to head wide of the target.

Loach excelled again in the 58th minute to turn round a close-range shot from Steele with a marvellous reaction save.

From the resulting corner, Stafford broke upfield. McNiven played a diagonal ball forward from the left into the area where Tynan dived bravely at the feet of Ross Draper who had raced forward.

Stafford continued to pose a threat and almost scored in the 63rd minute. Humphrey got down the right and crossed low into the area. McNiven got in a shot which hit the inside of the left-hand post only for the ball to roll agonisingly along the line and into the arms of Tynan. Credit to the assistant running the line on the Lotus side who got into a perfect position so he could judge any disputes on whether the ball crossed the line which could have arising.

Both sides made a second change a minute later with Nathan Smith coming on for Rangers in place of Samy Mawene.

Northwich skipper Michael Carr worked his way into a good position on the edge of the Stafford area but, fortunately, lifted his shot over the bar.

Smith set up a 70th-minute chance for his new caretaker manager. Grayson hit a swerving shot from 25 yards out which Tynan did well to turn round for a corner.

Chances continued and Loach made a brave save at the feet of Morning while Nick Farquharson sent a rising shot into the right sidenetting.

During the last ten minutes, scoring opportunities became scare. McNiven fed Humphrey who took the ball forward from the right and sent his shot over the bar.

Both Draper, for a foul, and Akins to preventing Stafford from taking a free-kick took the tally of bookings to two for each side.

Rangers had one last chance to snatch the win in injury time. McNiven was fouled by Wilson 35 yards out but Grayson hit the wall from the resulting free-kick.

Stafford, who leapfrogged Droylsden into 22nd position with this point, are next in action on Saturday 8th December when they visit current leaders Aldershot Town. They return to Marston Road a week later when Unibond League side Ossett Town are the opposition in an FA Trophy First Round tie.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): 12. Scott Loach; 2. Richie Sutton, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Djimi Sangare, 32. Luke Potter; 34. Chris Humphrey, 22. Samy Mawene, 17. Ross Draper, 7. Chris Flynn; 10. David McNiven, 9. Neil Grayson. Subs: 21. Jemiah Richards (for Sangare, ht), 15. Nathan Smith (for Mawene, 64), 1. Danny Alcock (gk), 16. Tom Ingram, 24. Steve Hopkinson.

Northwich Victoria (green/white/green) 13. Scott Tynan; 2. Simon Rusk, 3. Natt Kerr, 4. Michael Welch, 15. Richard Battersby; 29. Danny Williams, 22. Josh Wilson, 8. Michael Carr (capt), 27. Luke Horrocks; 23. Lee Steele, 24. Lucas Akins. Subs: 28. Adam Morning (for Horrocks, 40), 26. Nick Farquharson (for Williams, 64), 1. Ben Connett (gk), 17. Brad Maylett, 5. Greg Strong.

Referee: M. Brown (Hull).
Assistants: W. Trott (Liverpool) and G. Johnson (Ormskirk).
Fourth Official: G. Etchells (Crewe).


Stafford: Djoumin Sargare (YC, 31), Ross Draper (YC, 84)
Northwich: Josh Wilson (YC, 53), Lucas Atkins (YC, 90)

Man of the Match: Scott Loach.

This match report was originally written for and published on the now defunct

“I think a draw was a fair result,” said joint-manager Grayson who played the full ninety minutes and was denied by Tynan’s brilliance on no fewer than three occasions.

“Scott Loach on his last game on loan pulled off a couple of excellent saves. I asked him for a clear sheet and he put in a faultless performance.”

“We couple have nicked a win. I had a couple of chances in the first half and David McNiven hit the post with the ball rolling agonisingly along the lines into the keeper’s arms.”