Saturday 29th March 2008

Stafford Rangers 1 Aldershot Town 2
Blue Square Premier
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 981

Stafford Rangers produced the battling performance demanded by manager Steve Bull MBE only to suffer a narrow defeat at the hands of runaway league leaders Aldershot Town.

Rob Elvins put the visitors ahead in the 41st minute but Nick Wellecomme netted his first Stafford goal just after the hour mark to level things up. However, John Grant scored what proved to be the winner three minutes later.

Both managers made four changes. For Stafford, compared to the side that started at Altrincham on Monday, Djimi Sangare was serving the first of a two-match ban, Marco Adaggio was missing with a hamstring injury, Matt Hazley has been released and Steve Hopkinson was amongst the substitutes. Coming into the starting line-up were Nathan Smith, Samy Mawene, Ishmale Reid and new signing Jonathan Loukes. Aldershot were able to start with midfielder Scott Davies after they have appealed against his red card at Droylsden two days ago.

Stafford chose to attack the Social Club end in the first half looking to take advantage of a strong wind which turned out to perhaps ber a hinderance to both sides particularly in the first half. Aldershot kicked off and in the 4th minute John Grant fired wide of the near post from the left-hand side of the area.

Mawene shot wide of the near right-hand post and in the 11th minute forced Nikki Bull to tip over a serving shot hit from 20 yards. Lewis Chalmers drove over the Stafford bar from 25 yards out from Louie Soares laid back.

On the quarter hour Mawene fired a wind-assisted 40-yard free-kick threw a populated area and wide of the left-hand post, hoping for a deflection. Grant fired wide as Aldershot broke forward and defender Rob Gier got up with the attack to pull a shot well wide of the left-hand post. The visitors created a good chance in the 24th minute. Elvins crossed from the left and Grant put his header wide.

Loukes on his debut was booked in the 31st minute just before Bull did well to turn round a rising shot from Reid at the expense of a corner. Danny Alcock raced off his line to block a shot from Ben Harding who got on the end of Scott Davies' throughball.

Aldershot took the lead in the 41st minute. Soares fed Elvins who curled a shot from the left side of the area past Alcock and into the opposite side of the net. In first-half stoppage time Harding thumped a free-kick straight at Alcock from 25 yards out.

The visitors made a change at the interval with Scott Donnelly replacing the injured Davies. Stafford had a go at the start of the second half and Reid sent a 30-yard free-kick over the bar. Richie Sutton also shot over as well. Alcock produced a fine save in the 53rd minute to tip over a dipping 35-yard volley from Elvins.

Stafford got back on level terms in the 62nd minute. Smith got space on the right to deliver a perfect cross for Wellecomme to power a header past Bull from no more than eight yards out.

Three minutes later, Aldershot won a corner which Donnelly delivered into the six-yard box for Grant to head home.

Rangers showed spirit in battling for an equaliser and in the 71st minute Mawene crossed from the right. Wellecomme dived bravely at the ball and sent a header inches wide of the right-hand post.

In the 78th minute, Damion Jarrett replaced Smith and Elvins was booked four minutes later for a foul on Alcock. Stafford didn't give up the fight. Jarrett fired over from Reid's pass and Bull dived to his left to hold a volley by Jarrett. Aldershot made a second change in stoppage time, Danny Hylton replaced Grant, Alcock prevented Elvins from adding a third Aldershot goal just before the end.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Danny Alcock, 38. Alex Gibson, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 2. Richie Sutton, 7. Chris Flynn, 22. Samy Mawene 17. Ross Draper, 43. Jonathan Loukes, 30. Ishmale Reid, 42. Nick Wellecombe, 15. Nathan Smith. Subs: 35. Damion Jarrett (for Smith, 78), 18. Alan Dodd, 19. Seb Arnolin, 24, Steve Hopkinson, 33. Danny Allen (gk)

Aldershot Town (red / red / red): 1. Nikki Bull, 20. Rob Gier, 18. David Winfield, 5. Rhys Day (capt), 6. Anthony Charles, 7. Louie Soares, 8. Lewis Chalmers, 16. Scott Davies, 19. Ben Harding, 9. John Grant, 10. Rob Elvins. Subs: 24. Scott Donnelly (for Davies, ht), 14. Danny Hylton (for Grant, 90), 17. Kirk Hudson, 25. Junior Mendes, 33. Mikhael Jaimez-Ruiz (gk).

Referee: M. Matadar (Lancashire)
Attendance: 981 (inc 417 away fans)

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

Monday 24th March 2008

Altrincham 2 Stafford Rangers 0
Blue Square Premier
At: Moss Lane
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 1135

A first-half double from Altrincham leading scorer Colin Little proved crucial in the Easter Monday clash at Moss Lane between two old rivals.

Injuries to Neil Grayson and Kevin Street forced manager Steve Bull MBE to make two changes to the starting line-up with Marco Adaggio and Ross Draper both recalled. Ryan Lynch, who made four appearances for Stafford back in January, started for the home side.

Altrincham chose to attack the away end (Carol Nash and Family End) at Moss Lane with Stafford getting proceedings underway in cold but dry conditions.

Inside the first minute, Liam King got into a good position and Danny Alcock did well to parry a rising right-foot drive from 15 yards. The offside flag went up as John O'Neill went for the loose ball.

O'Neill soon had a better chance but, fortunately for Stafford, dragged his shot wide of the right-hand post from just 10 yards out in front of goal.

After Stafford won the first corner of the game, Alcock bravely blocked at the feet of Chris Senior inside the area.

A mistake in the 9th minute presented Rangers with a change. Home keeper Stuart Coburn reacted to turn round a well-struck shot from Adaggio at the near left-hand post.

Chris Flynn tried his luck from the edge of the area and saw his effort loop over the bar off a defender.

Altrincham took the lead in the 14th minute. A long throw from Ryan Shotton ended up at the far post where Little headed home.

Chances became scarce and the only serious effort for getting on for 15 minutes was a shot by Senior from Lynch's corner which Djoumin Sangare bravely blocked.

Rangers were awarded a free-kick which Steve Hopkinson delivered forward into the area. The ball fell to Sangare who volleyed towards goal only to hit one of his teammates.

Just after the half-hour mark, Nick Wellecombe, on his second start, flicked the ball into the path of Adaggio. The striker raced forward between two defenders and his low shot presumably took a deflection as the referee awarded a corner.

Altrincham was forced to make a change with Val Owen replacing the injured Liam King in the 33rd minute.

Stafford continued to create opportunities and Wellecombe headed Alex Gibson's cross straight at Coburn. Agaggio shot over from a cross from Hazley.

From another long throw by Shotton, defender Greg Young headed over.

Altrincham doubled their lead in the 42nd minute. From a corner by Lynch Alcock punched the ball back out to the right and Robbie Lawton crossed low into the crowded area. O'Neill set up Little who netted with a low shot from just six yards out.

Bull made a double change at the interval with Seb Arnolin and Samy Mawene replacing Steve Hopkinson and Richie Sutton.

Snow started to fall at the start of the second half but there was no hope of it falling in sufficient quantities to cause an abandonment!

Alcock again rescued Boro shortly after the restart, blocking Lynch's low driven ball into the area which may have taken a deflection. The Rangers keeper then gathered up a long-range effort from Warren Peyton. Altrincham appealed for a penalty when Greg Young went down in the area under Flynn's challenge.

The snow stopped, much to the delight of the travelling Stafford fans on the open away terrace, but they still had to ensure a cold wind.

In the 59th minute, O'Neill beat Alcock from 20 yards out but his shot, fortunately, rebounded off the bar. In the next attack, Senior lifted his shot over as Alcock dived at his feet. Little, looked for his hat-trick, succeeding only to fire over the bar.

Both sides made further changes and Nathan Smith replaced Matt Hazley in the 68th minute. His arrival set up a three-pronged forward line and Rangers started to threaten again. Smith fired straight at Coburn through a crowd from 15 yards out.

A corner from Mawene wasn't cleared and Draper's 15-yard shot was blocked by a defender. Smith cut in from the left, went for goal, and won a corner with a deflection of Darren Tinson. From it, Adaggio shot wide at the near post.

Arnolin and Draper was booked in quick succession before Altrincham replaced Senior with Chris Lane.

Stafford continued for what would have been a first goal since the draw at Woking. Arnolin fed Adaggio who shot wide. Adaggio limped off near the end and Rangers finished with ten men. In stoppage time, Wellecombe tested Coburn from 35 yard out who made a comfortable catch.

There was time before the final whistle for Gary Scott to go into the book for a foul on Daniel.

Altrincham (red and white stripes / black / red): 1. Stuart Coburn, 16. Ryan Shotton, 5. Darren Tinson (capt), 10. Greg Young, 4. Ryan Lynch, 7. Robbie Lawton, 11. Warren Peyton, 25. Liam King, 9. Colin Little, 19. Chris Senior, 12. Joe O'Neill. Subs: 8. Val Owen (for King, 33), 3. Gary Scott (for O'Neill, 66), 15. Chris Lane (for Senior, 86), 2. Steve Aspinall, 6. Jake Sedgemore

Stafford Rangers (blue / white / blue): 1. Danny Alcock, 2. Richie Sutton, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Djoumin Sangare, 38. Alex Gibson, 24. Steve Hopkinson, 7. Chris Flynn, 17. Ross Draper, 37. Matt Hazley, 20. Marco Adaggio, 42. Nick Wellecombe. Subs: 19. Seb Arnolin (for Hopkinson, ht), 22. Samy Mawene (for Sutton, ht), 15. Nathan Smith (for Hazley, 68), 30. Ishmale Reid, 33. Danny Allen (gk)

Referee: D. Richardson (West Yorkshire)
Attendance: 1135

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

Saturday 22nd March 2008

Stafford Rangers 0 Torquay United 2
Blue Square Premier
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 905

Manager Steve Bull MBE was generally pleased with the performance even though Rangers suffered defeat to second-half goals scored by Tim Sills and Roscoe D'Sane.

The Rangers starting line-up showed four changes. Neil Grayson and new signing Nick Wellecombe were paired in attack and both Alex Gibson and Chris Flynn returned in midfield.

A strong wind blew down the pitch towards the Town End and Stafford looked to make use of it in the first half. Torquay, on their first visit to Marston Road, got the game underway attacking the Social Club end.

Stafford pressed forward during the opening exchanges and Kevin Street fired over from well outside the area. Steve Hopkinson drove straight at Simon Raynor from 30 yards out and Street sent another shot wide of the right-hand post. Gibson crossed from the right and Grayson flicked a header wide at the far post. Rangers were awarded a free-kick 35 yards out which Matt Hazley shot straight at Raynor.

Torquay were denied a goal in the 13th minute by Danny Alcock. Jody Banim, previously with Droylsden, put Sills clear but the Stafford keeper dived to his right to push away the resulting low shot.

Bull was forced to make his first substitution in the 17th minute when Marco Adaggio came on for Grayson who suffered a back injury.

The visitors continued to threaten and Alcock needed to block a shot from Lee Phillips. Midway through the half, Kevin Nicholson crossed from the left to Sills who turned and hit a rising shot that Alcock held.

Street saw a low drive deflected for a corner but Torquay soon got forward again. Sills headed straight at Alcock and sent a similar effort wide from Banim's cross. Wayne Daniel did well to cut out Steve Adams' dangerous low cross at the expense of a corner.

Mark Ellis was the next player to try and break the deadlock, firing a left-foot shot over from a narrow angle, having stayed up with the attack following a set-piece. Alcock bravely blocked a shot from Chris Hargreaves while Sills ran in to header inches over from the resulting corner.

In the 41st minute, Djoumin Sangare was booked for a foul on Phillips before Stafford finished the half on the attack. Wellecombe forced the first of two corners and also saw a rsing shot held by Raynor in first-half stoppage time.

Less than a minute of the second half had elapsed when Chris Zebroski, on the right, drove towards goal from a narrow angle and Alcock saved.

But Torquay took the lead in the 48th minute. Nicholson delivered a right-wing corner to the far post where Sills headed home into the roof of the net.

The visitors looked for another goal. Banim's shot was deflected out for a corner from which Sills saw a header blocked on the line. Sills' follow-up shot went over. Banim was booked in the 54th minute for a foul on Richie Sutton.

On the hour, Raynor held a speculative long-range effort from Wellecome before Rangers replaced Steve Hopkinson with Ross Draper in the 63rd minute. Torquay also made a change in the 68th minute with Kaid Mohamed coming on for Zebroski.

Alcock was in outstanding form and kept out a close-range shot from Bamin with his boot. The same player thumped a 25-yard drive straight at Alcock from Phillips' pass.

Wellecombe enjoyed an encouraging debut and wasn't too far away with an overhead kick.

Both side made further changes in the 74th minute. Samy Mawene replaced Hazley and D'Sane replaced Phillips.

With just a one-goal deficit, Stafford were always in with a chance of snatching a point, especially as Torquay continued to miss their scoring opportunities. Ellis headed wide at the far post while Alcock held a 20-yard shot from D'Sane. Banim set up Sills who just missed the target and Gibson cleared.

In the 88th minute, Rangers appealed for a penalty when Mawene was brought down by Chris Todd. Mawene was booked for protesting too strongly. Wellecombe tested Raynor and the keeper had to dive to his left to keep out a low 20-yard shot.

But any hope that Stafford had of salvaging a point ended just before the start of injury time. Torquay broke down the right and Alcock did well to keep out Sills' header. The ball looped kindly into the path of D'Sane who volleyed home.

Matt Hockley replaced Nicholson and, in stoppage time, Alcock tipped over Bamin's rsing drive from Sills's knock-down.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): 1. Danny Alcock, 2. Richie Sutton, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Djoumin Sangare, 38. Alex Gibson, 8. Kevin Street, 24. Steve Hopkinson, 7. Chris Flynn, 37. Matt Hazley, 42. Nick Wellecombe, 9. Neil Grayson. Subs: 20. Marco Adaggio (for Grayson, 17), 17. Ross Draper (for Hopkinson, 63), 22. Samy Mawene (for Hazley, 74), 30. Ishmale Reid, 33. Danny Allen (gk)

Torquay United (yellow / yellow/ yellow): 1. Simon Raynor, 7. Lee Mansell, 6. Chris Todd, 25. Mark Ellis, 3. Kevin Nicholson, 26. Chris Zebroski, 24. Steve Adams, 14. Chris Hargreaves (capt), 12. Jody Banim, 8. Tim Sills, 10. Lee Phillips. Subs: 23. Kaid Mohamed (for Zebroski, 67), 20. Roscoe D'Sane (for Phillips, 74), 16. Matt Hockely (for Nicholson, 90), 9. Elliot Benyon, 21. Martin Rice (gk)

Referee: M. A. Naylor (South Yorkshire)
Attendance: 905 (inc 342 away fans)

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

Friday 21st March 2008 ii

Bitton 0 Corsham Town 0
Toolstation League Premier Division
At: the Recreation Ground, Bath Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 168

Bitton's Recreation Ground couldn't have been easier to find, being located on the A431 road to Bath. The views are superb and, on Good Friday, there was the added bonus of watching the odd steam train move up and down the Avon Valley Railway. The game itself, between two local rivals was a good one but neither side managed to find the back of the net

The Recreation Ground is certainly a picturesque place to watch football. Alongside the entrance, level with the edge of the penalty area the road end of the ground, is the changing room/tea bar block to the right and covered standing to the left. There are two terrace steps behind the near goal and opposite is a small stand containing three rows of wooden seating. A prominent sign next to the main road advertises the next home fixtures to tempt in the locals.

I obtained a old copy of one of Bitton's programmes from earlier in the season, coincidently for a Gloucestershire FA Trophy tie against Longwell Green Sports (who I'd seen play Cadbury Heath a couple of hours earlier). It was a 32-pager and no complaints from me about the amount of reading material and statistics. As for the line-ups, I asked for and was given a copy of the teamsheets.

Bitton (red and white striped shirts, black shorts and socks) got the game under way attacking down the slope at the Recreation Ground. The first decent chance fell to the home side when Mat Tillet forced a diving save out of Nick Gingell who got down to keep out a nice 25-yard strike. For Corsham, Simon Gray fired into the sidenetting while Tillet went close with another effort from outside the box.

Corsham (amber shirts, black shorts and socks) went into this game in a high league position behind runaway leaders Truro City. They had climbed the table thanks to a run of 11 consecutive league wins stretching from just before Christmas until the begining of March but had failed to win any of the last three games. They almost took the lead before the interval when Jack Nicholls had a shot blocked and Gray drove wide on the break.

More changes were created in the second half as both sides looked to get in front. Ten minutes after the restart, Bitton's John Rendell produced a superb save to deny Nicholls. The second half was certainly more entertaining that the first and on the hour, Leroy Sioaybe volley against the Corsham bar. The home bar was rattled nine minutes later when Micholls hit the bar from the endge of the area.

The visitors pressed hard for the winner and nearly got one in the 90th minute but Phil Baker sidefooted over.

Friday 21st March 2008 (noon)

Longwell Green Sports 3 Cadbury Heath 1
Toolstation League Division One
At: Shellards Road
Kick-off: 12-00 noon
Admission: £4 including 28 page programme
Attendance: 322
Weather: sunny, wind
Duration: first-half: 46:37; second-half: 48:40

The first leg of a Good Friday ‘double’ proved to be a real cracker of a game in front of the biggest crowd in the Toolstation League Division 1 all season. Longwell Green gained the local bragging rights with two goals during the final quarter after Cadbury Heath had cancelled out an early penalty.

A while ago, I agreed to take Mrs and Junior ‘iwf’ down to Devon for a long weekend away at the mother-in-law. I was confidence, without knowing the fixtures, that my return journey up the M5 on Good Friday wouldn’t be without football. My confidence was justified as I enjoyed a ‘double’ in the company of several travellers with a short trip to Bitton following this one.

“This is without doubt the best local derby in Bristol as the last two games have proved,” wrote the Longwell Green Chairman in the programme describing this clash with close neighbours Cadbury Heath, adding “that it is full credit to both teams and sets of supporters.” I certainly thought I’d picked a good game to watch and this pre-match assessment was to prove correct.

The origins of Longwell Green Sports are interesting. They were formed in 1966 from the workforce of the area’s main employer, Longwell Green Coachworks, following the great upsurge of interest in football following England’s Word Cup win. The first pitch was laid out at the same site as today’s pitch is but in those days was open farmland. Over the past few years, they have made great strides up the pyramid from Bristol Combination to Toolstation League via the Gloucestershire County League.

Longwell Green’s home is the ‘Community Centre’ ground on Shellards Road. From the M32 Junction 1, take the A4174 ring road eastbound to the Kingsfield roundabout (by Asda) turn left into Marsham Way. At the first set of traffic lights, turn left into Woodward Drive, then right into Parkwall Road which becomes Shellards Road and the ground is on the left There is a car park and the ground is behind the Community Centre continuing round to the left.

Entering the ground behind the goal at the northern end, there is a small stand on the right-hand touchline near the Social Club and changing rooms. On each touchline are three floodlight pylons. Those who have been to the ground will know that there is no solid barrier between the ground and outside world, just wire fencing. So I liked the comment in the programme by the Chairman: “Please give a wave and a whistle to those people stood outside the fence watching the game for free.”

A decent programme was issued and included in the £4 admission charge. It was a 28-pager including a glossy cover which prominently featured the club badge. All relevant information was present – opposition history, league table, stats, club news, etc. – and all-in-all an interesting read.

The match itself was a cracker watched by a crowd of 322, the highest Toolstation League Division One crowd of the season surpassing the 280 which saw Longwell’s home game with Shepton Mallett last month. The home side took the lead with a 12th-minute penalty converted by Chris Churchill but this was eventually cancelled out on the hour. However, Longwell quickly regained the lead and wrapped up a 3-1 win with Matt Jackson’s late third goal.

Quite a few of the travellers at Longwell opted for Roman Glass St George, which would have been a 'new ground' for me as well, but I stuck with the original plan of making the short journey to ‘tick’ Premier Division Bitton.

Longwell Green Sports (sky blue and white stripes / black / black): 1. Mark Britton, 2. Lee Vickerman, 3. Ryan Gardner, 4. Ross Vickerman, 5. Sam McAlinden, 6. Luke Davidson, 7. Stuart Mountford, 8. Neil Rossle, 9. Matt Jackson, 10. Chris Churchill, 11. Chris Alway. Subs: 12. Matt Gunstone (for Mountford, 75), 14. Adam Wyrill (not used), 15. Matt Alway (not used).

Cadbury Heath (red and white stripes / red / red): 1. Simon Crawford, 2. Mark Cooke, 3. Dave Scott (capt), 4. Joe Lott, 5. Tony Perry, 6. Mark Fear, 7. Ryan Nicholls, 8. Paul Bryant, 9. Joe Dakwa, 10. Marcus Duharty, 11. Leon Maloney. Subs: 12. Nick Dyer (for Nicholls, ht), 14. Andy Weeks (not used), 15. Lee Gitson (not used).

Referee: Lee Hoskins.
Assistants: Maris Brugis and Jeff Forster.

1-0 Chris Churchill (12 pen)
1-1 Leon Maloney (60)
2-1 Chris Alway (71)
3-1 Matt Jackson (86)

Longwell Green: Ross Vickerman (YC, 59).
Cadbury Heath: Simon Crawford (YC, 11), Marcus Duharty (YC, 46).

Saturday 15th March 2008 (3-00 pm)

Stafford Rangers 0 Oxford United 1
Blue Square Premier at Marston Road
Attendance: 962

Stafford Rangers were again out of luck against Oxford United as they took all three points with an 11th-minute goal from Matt Green.

Manager Steve Bull MBE made six changes to the starting line-up with Liam Hughes and Marco Addagio both returning to the forward line having missed last Saturday's draw at Woking. In midfield, Samy Mawene, Damion Jarrett and Matt Hazley all started with Steve Hopkinson at left back. Oxford had former Stafford reserve Billy Turley in goal.

With drizzle falling at Marston Road, which hardly stopped during the game, Oxford got the game underway attacking the Social Club.

Hopkinson was the first player to go for goal with a 40-yard shot which was blocked by a defender on the edge of the visitors' area.

There was early danger for Stafford when Green broke down the right and crossed low into the area. The ball was aimed for Justin Richards but Wayne Daniel got back to clear at the expense of a corner.

On what looked like a slippery surface, Green again crossed from the right and Phil Trainer headed wide of the right-hand post from just eight yards out.

Djoumin Sangare was booked in the 11th minute for a foul on Green, just before the same Oxford striker scored the only goal. Eddie Anaclet slipped a pass through to Green who sent a rising right foot shot into the roof of the net from 12 yards out, giving Alcock no chance.

With former striker Chris Camden watching from the main stand, Stafford looked to bounce back from this early setback. Richie Sutton's long throw from the right was headed back by Hughes into the path of Mawene who fired straight at Turley from the edge of the area. Mawene also went close with a low 20-yard drive which flashed past the left-hand post.

Midway through the first half, Mawene turned provider to set up a chance for Hughes who flicked the ball wide at the near post.

Oxford's two front men proved to be a real handful during the first half. Richards turned on the edge of the area and sent his left-foot shot just wide of the target.

Adaggio nipped in between two defenders to head wide and Sutton drove straight at Turley as Rangers tried to threaten. Mawene delivered a near-post corner which Hughes headed across the face of goal.

As the interval neared, Jamie Hand was sent down the left by Anaclet's pass and crossed into the area. The ball fell to Green who shot over the bar.

Steve Bull MBE made two changes at the interval with Hughes and Adaggio replaced by Neil Grayson and Nathan Smith.

Danny Alcock pulled off the first of several excellent second-half saves shortly after play resumed. He dived to his right to push away a well-struck drive from Trainer before Anaclet wasted a straight-forward chance to double Oxford's lead at the far post. He got on the end of Green's low cross from the right and steered the ball wide of the target. Hand fired straight at Alcock from 25-yards.

Six minutes after the restart, Rangers were awarded a free-kick just outside the Oxford area for a foul on Ross Draper. Smith curled the ball around the wall and flew out for a corner after taking a deflection.

Oxford took off Richards in the 59th minute and brought on Craig McAllister who had faced Rangers before during his time at Woking. Soon after, Anaclet burst down the right and crossed into the area. Green slid in to hit what looked like a goalbound shot until Alcock somehow produced a fine reaction save.

Stafford made their third and final substitution in the 68th minute with Chris Flynn replacing Sangare and the change resulting in a reshuffle at the back. Mawene delivered a free-kick into a packed Oxford area, which was punched out by Turley to Hazley who volleyed over the bar from fully 30 yards out.

Alcock was named Man of the Match by the sponsors and produced another class save to keep Rangers' deficit at one. Hand fed McAllister who looked to have steered a 12-yard shot into the bottom left corner. The Rangers keeper had other ideas and dived full length to turn the ball round. Barry Quinn sent a downward header straight at Alcock from the resulting corner delivered by Adam Murray.

Jarrett caught Luke Foster with a stiff challenge in the 74th minute and was yellow carded by Mr Tierney after consulting his assistant over of the Lotus side touchline.

Oxford launched a swift break, Murray took the ball forward and drove both over the bar and Shed End stand. Matt Day saw 'yellow' in the 79th minute for a foul on Draper.

Day tried his luck from well outside the Stafford area and sent his shot high and wide of the left-hand post. Flynn required several minutes of treatment off the field for a cut below his right eye following a challenge by Green.

Stafford appealed unsuccessfully for a penalty in the 86th minute when Draper went down inside the area.

Alcock again excelled at full time approached to turn round a deflected shot from Trainer and also gathered up an 18-yard shot from Anaclet. Oxford replaced Trainer with Danny Rose in the 89th minute.

In stoppage time, Murray shot wide of an unguarded goal from 40 yards out.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes/black/black): 1. Danny Alcock, 2. Richie Sutton, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Djoumin Sangare, 24. Steve Hopkinson, 35. Damion Jarrett, 22, Samy Mawene, 17. Ross Draper, 37. Matt Hazley, 20. Marco Adaggio, 41. Liam Hughes. Subs: 9. Neil Grayson (for Hughes, ht), 15, Nathan Smith (for Adaggio, ht), 7. Chris Flynn (for Sangare, 68), 30. Ishmale Reid, 33. Danny Allen

Oxford United (blue / blue/ white): 1. Billy Turley, 21. Matt Day, 4. Barry Quinn (capt), 16. Luke Foster, 14. Michael Howard, 2. Eddie Anaclet, 23. Adam Murray, 26. Jamie Hand, 18. Phil Trainer, 24. Matt Green, 25. Justin Richards. Subs: 12. Craig McAllister (for Richards, 59), 11. Danny Rose (for Trainer, 89), 22. Michael Blackwood, 37. Alex Fisher, 38. Declan Benjamin

Referee: P. Tierney (Lancashire)
Attendance: 962 (inc 277 away fans)

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

Saturday 8th March 2008

Woking 2 Stafford Rangers 2
Blue Square Premier
At Kingfield
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 1133 (37 away fans)

Stafford Rangers twice came from behind to earn a point against ten-man Woking and end a run of two straight defeats.

Seb Arnolin, with a first-half penalty, and Neil Grayson, in the second half, were the men on target at Kingfield. Woking had been reduced to ten men on the half hour with the dismissal of skipper Tom Hutchinson for handball which resulted in the penalty.

Manager Steve Bull made three changes to the starting line-up. Alex Gibson, who failed a late fitness test, and the ill Liam Hughes both dropped out of the sixteen and Damion Jarrett was amongst the substitutes. Arnolin, Ishmale Reid and Dolapo Olaoye were trio brought in. Defender Alan Dodd, who recently rejoined the club, was amongst the substitutes.

Stafford got the game underway attacking the large all-seater Bellway Stand at the south-western end of the Kingfield.

Inside the first minute, Olaoye showed a good bit of skill on the left inside the area as he turned and fired across the face of goal. Kevin Street got forward but couldn't quite get on the end at the far post. Woking were awarded a free-kick just outside the Rangers area, right of the 'D', from which Adam Green drove over the bar.

Chances were scare in solid opening by Rangers until Woking took the lead in the 18th minute. Danny Alcock couldn't hold Danny Bunce's left-wing cross and Matt Pattison fired home a first-time shot from eight yards out.

Stafford got back on level terms on the half hour. Olaoye beat the Woking offside trap and took the ball forward into the area. Keeper Ross Worner left his line and dived at the feet of the forward. The ball ran free to Ross Draper who saw a goalbound shot handled by Hutchinson. The referee brandished a straight red card for the defender and Arnolin stepped up to convert the resulting penalty.

With a man advantage and an unsettled opposing defence lacking a central defender, Stafford quickly got forward again. Grayson lifted the ball past Worner and inches wide of the left-hand post. Woking brought on Matt Ruby as a replacement defender with Green sacrificed from the midfield.

Rangers enjoyed a good spell. Good approach play involving Arnolin and Draper created an opening for Olaoye. However, the brave Worner dived at the feet of the striker to save his side. Olaoye got into the area again down the right and this time was thwarted by a solid, but fair, challenge by Damian Batt at the expense of a corner.

Alcock needed to remain alert and did well to push clear a 35-yard free-kick from Matt Gray that was heading for the right-corner of the net. Rangers were forced to make a change in the 43rd minute with Olaoye, hurt by Batt's earlier challenge, replaced by Damion Jarrett. Bradley Quamina, named Woking man-of-the match by the sponsors, lashed a 30-yard shot wide of the left-hand post.

The second half began with another Rangers chance two minutes after the restart. Chris Flynn's throw on the left found Jarrett who in turn slipped the ball forward. Grayson latched on and fired inches wide across the diving Worner and just past the right-hand post.

Woking were awarded free-kick on the right which Gray hammered into the area and the ball hit Daniel. It rebounded back to Gray who got in another shot which took a deflection off Flynn and Alcock got down to hold.

But Rangers were out of luck in the 55th minute. Daniel tried to shield the ball back to Alcock but Marvin Morgan nipped in and squared for Jason Norville to slot into an unguarded net from six yards out.

Once again, Stafford showed spirit in quickly getting forward. Jay Gasson sliced a clearance over his own bar at the expense of a corner. A right-wing cross by Richie Sutton led to Rangers getting back on level terms in the 58th minute. Jarrett's header was blocked on the line by a defender and Grayson reacted to force the ball home from 6 yards out.

The game was certainly more open that it was in the first half and chances continued to be created. Draper fired wide from well outside the area and Gasson sent a looping header on the roof of the Rangers net from Bunce's free-kick. Ruby was booked in the 65th minute for a foul on Flynn 30 yards out. Arnolin curled the free-kick around the wall and into the arms of Worner.

There was danger for Rangers when Norville charged down Djoumin Sangare's clearance. Morgan latched on to the ball and Flynn produced a vital tackle to halt the progress of the Woking striker.

Bull made another change in the 70th minute when Courtney Shaw came on for Arnolin. Grayson again went close. Tightly marked by Gasson, the veteran got in a shot which Worner turned round for a corner.

Woking replaced both strikers with Liam Maurm on for Norville in the 76th minute and Giuseppe Sole on for Morgan three minutes later. In between these changes, Street drove straight at Wormer from 25 yards out.

Rangers thought they had taken the lead in the 81st minute. Wormer could only parry Street's long-range strike and Grayson headed home the rebound. However, the assistant referee had raised his flag for offside and video evidence suggested the decision was a correct one.

Both sides clearly wanted all three points. Marum fired straight at Alcock and Reid headed wide of the Woking goal. A shot from Jarrett took a deflection off Batt and Wormer dived at full stretch to prevent the ball going in.

As full-time approached, Woking applied a final bit of pressure. Sole hooked the ball over from 8 yards out, Pattison sent a 20-yard first-time right-foot volley flashing past the right-hand post and, in stoppage time, Alcock held Quamina's drive.

Woking (white and red halves / white / black): 12. Ross Worner, 21. Damian Batt, 5. Tom Hutchinson (capt), 6. Jay Gasson, 3. Danny Bunce, 11. Matt Pattison, 7. Matt Gray, 4. Bradley Quamina, 14. Adam Green, 9. Jason Norville, 8. Marvin Morgan. Subs: 16. Matt Ruby (for Green, 32), 10. Liam Marum (for Norville, 76), 24. Giuseppe Sole (for Morgan, 79), 1. Nick Gindre (not used), 15. Goma Lambu (not used).

Stafford Rangers (blue/white/blue): 1. Danny Alcock, 2. Richie Sutton, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 6. Djoumin Sangare, 7. Chris Flynn, 8. Kevin Street, 19. Seb Arnolin, 17. Ross Draper, 30. Ishmale Reid, 11. Dolapo Olaoye, 9. Neil Grayson. Subs: 35. Damion Jarrett (for Olaoye, 43), 40. Courtney Shaw (for Arnolin, 70), 18. Alan Dodd (not used), 33. Danny Allen (not used), Keenan Meakin-Richards (not used)

Referee: SA Hooper (Swindon).
Attendance: 1133 (inc 37 away fans)

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

Tuesday 4th March 2008

Kidderminster Harriers 6 Stafford Rangers 0
Blue Square Premier
At: Aggborough
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Attendance: 1240 (85 away fans)

Stafford Rangers will be looking to bounce back in Saturday's game at Woking following this defeat. Kidderminster scored four times in the first half and added two more after the break to record what was their first win since mid-January.

Manager Steve Bull MBE made three changes to the starting line-up with Alex Gibson, Chris Flynn and Damion Jarrett all recalled. Matt Hazley was missing from the squad after picking up a knock against Farsley.

Kidderminster got the game under way , attacking the scoreboard end on the south side of Aggborough which housed the travelling Stafford fans. Early on, Simon Russell went for goal early on and fired straight at the well-positioned Danny Alcock from 25-yards out. Russell also drove a low cross-sum-shot across the face of goal, perhaps hoping a teammate could get on the end. Matthew Barnes-Homes hit a right-foot drive from 25 yards out which flew wide of the left-hand post.

Darryl Knights, a scorer aaginst Stafford earlier in the season for Cambridge United, gave Harriers the lead in the 14th minute. He send a low drive straight into the bottm-left corner of the net past the diving Alcock.

The home side doubled their advantage in the 21st minute. Barnes-Homer crossed from the left and Iyseden Christie ran in to head home at close range.

Rangers got forward deep into Harriers territory. Kevin Street set up Ross Draper who drove straight at Chris MacKenzie from the edge of the area.

Knights turned provider in the 25th minute as Harriers added their third goal. Russell finished off the move with a low shot from inside the area.

Barnes-Homer sent a dipping volley just over the bar before Kidderminster were awarded a penalty in the 35th minute. Barnes-Homer was brought down by Alcock and got up to send the Rangers keeper the wrong way from the spot. Alcock was soon called upon to bravely dive at the feet of Christie who got clear into the area after latching on to a slightly-overhit throughball.

Rangers rallied before the interval. Flynn crossed from the left and found Liam Hughes who turned inside the area and saw his shot blocked by Mark Creighton. In the 42nd minute, Wayne Daniel played a free-kick forward from halfway into the home area. The ball wasn't cleared and Djoumin Sangare fired wide.

Four minutes after the restart, Stafford were awarded a free-kick out on the right. Jarrett tried to catch MacKenzie off guard with a dipping shot which just cleared the bar. Harriers quickly got forward and Russell curled a right-foot shot, which swung in towards goal, just wide of the right-hand post. Chances were continued to be created and MacKenzie gathered up a low effort from Street. Hughes sent a powerful volley straight at the keeper, a good strike that deserved a goal.

Knights (for a foul) and Jarrett (for what appeared to be dissent) were both booked in the 53rd minute.

Christie scored his second goal of the game three minutes later as Harriers further extended their advantage. He tapped in at close range after Knights slipped the ball past Alcock.

Ishmale Reid replaced Flynn in the 64th minute and quickly thumped a low 35-yard free-kick straight at MacKenzie who did well not to spill the ball.

Richie Sutton was booked in the 69th minute for dissent before trying his luck from well outside the area. His well-struck shot diddn't miss the left-hand post by much. Sangare became the third Rangers player to see 'yellow', for not retreating 10 yards.

Alcock was unlucky to concede a sixth goal in the 90th minute. Russell's shot from inside the area took a couple of delections on its way into the net. Before play resumed, both sides amde a change with Courtney Shaw replacing Hughes. Christie hit the bar in stoppage time.

Kidderminster Harriers (red/white/red): MacKenzie, Kenna, Creighton, Jones, Jeannin, Russell, Penn, Bennett, Knights, Christie, Barnes-Homer. Subs: McGrath (for Knights, 77), Smikle (for Penn, 85), Harkness (for Jeannin, 90), Bignot, Coleman

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes / black / black): Alcock, Sangare, Daniel, Sutton, Gibson, Street, Draper, Flynn, Jarrett, Grayson, Hughes. Subs: Reid (for Flynn, 64), Shaw (for Hughes, 90), Arnolin, Meakin-Richards, Allen

Referee: SD Tomlinson (Hampshire).

Stafford Rangers 0 Farsley Celtic 2

Saturday 1st March 2008
Stafford Rangers 0 Farsley Celtic 2
Blue Square Premier
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 1853

The build-up had been amazing and the first home game in charge for new manager Steve Bull MBE proved to be a memorable spectacle. The only thing lacking was a victory or even a goal as visitors Farsley forgot to read the script.

The Stafford starting line-up showed four changes including the return of Djoumin Sangare to the defence. Keenan Meakin-Richards and Liam Hughes, on-loan from Wolves, both made their debut while Courtney Shaw was given his first start.

With Stafford electing to attack the Social Club end in the first half, it was visitors Farsley, making their first visit to Marston Road, who got the game underway in dry but windy conditions.

Rangers won a corner in the 4th minute which Matt Hazley swung towards the near post. Neil Grayson rose to head the ball across the face of goal and wide of the far post.

Hazley limped off with what appeared to be a knee injury and was replaced in the 9th minute by Ishmale Reid, making his home debut.

Further corners quickly followed, either side of Reid’s arrival, and Wayne Daniel headed wide at the far post from the second one.

It was the visitors who had the first attempt on target as Damian Reeves headed straight at Danny Alcock.

Sangare was booked for a trip on Scott McNiven in the 19th minute. McNiven fired the resulting free-kick against the wall and Shaw got in the way of Krief’s follow-up.

Farsley got forward again and Daniel cut out Rory Prendergast’s long right-wing cross.

The visitors broke the deadlock in the 26th minute. Andy Watson crossed deep from the right to the far post where Torpey headed home.

McNiven tried his luck with a free-kick from the left which he swung in towards the near post. The ball missed the target but Danny Alcock had it covered.

Meakin-Richards went for goal just after the half-hour mark and fired wide of the left-hand post from well outside the area.

Farsley won a corner, delivered by Prendergast, from which Georges Santos ran in to head over.

As the interval approached, Kevin Street battled inside the Farsley half and created a shooting chance on the edge of the area. The midfielder got in a shot which took a deflection off a defender at the expense of a corner. Reid almost created some space and fired wide of the left-hand post.

Straight from the restart, Grayson got forward and sent a low shot wide. Stafford appealed for a penalty when Grayson went down inside a crowded area from Shaw’s corner.

Prendergast tested Alcock from the edge of the area but the Rangers keeper was well positioned to hold. The same player went for goal direct from a free-kick and the ball hit Street on the edge of the wall on its way out for a corner.

This corner was delivered into the Rangers area and Amjad Iqbal went to ground. The referee gave a penalty and Krief sent Alcock the wrong way from the spot in the 62nd minute.

Before play resumed, Stafford made a second change with Damion Jarrett coming on for Meakin-Richards.

Rangers started to fight their way back into the game. Jarrett curled a free-kick over the wall and just over the visitors bar. Grayson also headed wide from another Jarrett’ free-kick.

Sangare stayed up with the attack and headed wide a near-post cross from Richie Sutton.

Farsley survived the pressure and Reeves could have scored a third in the 87th minute. He stayed onside but good defending by Daniel prevented a shooting chance.

Stafford Rangers (black and white stripes/black/black): 1. Danny Alcock, 6. Djoumin Sangare, 5. Wayne Daniel (capt), 2. Richie Sutton, 37. Matt Hazley, 17. Ross Draper, 39. Keenan Meakin-Richards, 8. Kevin Street, 40. Courtney Shaw, 41. Liam Hughes, 9. Neil Grayson. Subs: 30. Ishmale Reid (for Hazley, 9), 35. Damion Jarrett (for Meakin-Richards, 62), 7. Chris Flynn, 33. Danny Allen (gk), 38. Alex Gibson

Farsley Celtic (blue/blue/blue): 31. Curtis Aspden, 2. Matt Jackson, 4. Amjad Iqbal, 38. Georges Santos, 16. Scott McNiven, 11. Andy Watson, 27. Dominic Krief, 24. Craig Bentham, 39. Rory Prendergast, 9. Damian Reeves, 32. Steve Torpey (Bambrook, 83). Subs: 8. Simeon Bambrook (for Torpey, 83), 7. James Knowles, 14. Roy Stamer, 35. Colin Heath, 37. Chris Backhouse (gk)

Referee: David Coote (Nottinghamshire)
Attendance: 1853 (inc 62 away fans)

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