Stalybridge Preview

This weekend sees the big Old Firm Derby as Celtic take on Rangers. Sorry, but that is the big Glasgow derby, although to many the Northern Premier League old firm derby is more important as Stafford Rangers take on Stalybridge Celtic. This rivalry has been going on since the Cheshire League days, so is not as old as that one across the border. However, this encounter has some added spice as Stalybridge last season were managed by our Steve Burr. Steve has already said that he has no animosity to Stalybridge as they split on good terms, so that could take some edge away from the game.

When the fixtures came out, I think many saw us having a tough start to the campaign and would certainly have seen this fixture as potentially providing a good return for us. Looking at the fledgling League table how wrong we were as we lie second from bottom and Stalybridge lie second. Already this season we have seen some quirks in the league format having played two long distance Saturday away games and two midweek home fixtures, while Stalybridge’s four games has seen 3 home games and one away game. With a return of two wins and a draw at home and a draw away (0-0) they lie second to Gainsborough. Hopefully a few more games will see things balance out and we start to climb the table.

Last season, both games saw 2-0 home wins, so we would certainly like to see a repeat of that. Season 2017/18 was Stalybridge’s first season back in the Northern Prem following relegation from the National League North, and they struggled throughout finishing 22nd which, in a normal season, would have seen them suffer a further relegation.

While Steve will be renewing former acquaintances, a former player may be in the Celtic ranks, as Niall Flint makes a brief return to Marston Road. We picked up Niall from Matlock but things did not work out and he moved on.

Stalybridge should bring a few fans along as they have subsidised coach fares for away games so lets hope our fans can come out in force on Saturday for the 3pm kick off, and be on song to see our first win of the season.



Stafford Rangers 1 – 1 Mickleover Sports

Stafford Rangers 1 – 1 Mickleover Sports

The wait for the first win of the season continues for Steve Burr and his men after Rangers were held to a draw by Mickleover Sports.
Rangers fielded the same side that was beaten by South Shields on Saturday meaning there was still no place for Ossie Abadaki while Sam Coulson again missed out due to injury.

There could have been early problems for Rangers when Adam Whitehouse looked to have a wrist injury picked up when keeping out Evan Garnett’s shot but, fortunately, the Boro keeper was able to continue after treatment.

There was little else of a threat at either end for the next 20 mins. Mickleover’s Ben Roberts tried his luck with a couple of free kicks taken from almost identical positions around 30 yards out. His first effort went just over the intersection off post and crossbar while his second cannoned back off the wall.

Rangers’ best opportunity came from a Tom Thorley free kick that was headed down by Kyle Perry but Kevin Grocott quickly cleared the danger.

It was another free kick that produced the opener for Rangers on 21 minutes. Though the initial kick was unproductive, Rangers kept up the pressure Joe Cuff crossed from the left and Kyle Perry got the header past Lewis King for his first goal of the season.

A couple of minutes later Cuff went wide himself as Rangers looked to build on their advantage.

Mickleover had a further set back when Niall Doran was stretchered off following a challenge by Thorley and it was Rangers who continued to look the stronger as the sides went into the break but they only had one goal to show for their efforts.

The best of the rest fell to Harry Benns on 39 mins but he sliced his shot over after some good approach play on the Stafford right.

But it was Mickleover who came out stronger in the second half and it needed a good block from Tom Marshall to deny Roberts after the Mickleover man had cut in from the right touchline.

Whitehouse was forced to push away a free kick from Roberts then saw Phillips go just wide from just outside the area.

Mickleover’s pressure finally paid off in the 58th minute when another free kick – this time from player manager John McGrath – deflected off the boot of Lewis Banks and past Whitehouse via the inside of the far post.

Mickleover came again and sub Lewis Belgrave sent in a cross-shot from some distance out which sailed wide then a poor header out from Marshall gave Garnett a look in only for Whitehouse to make the save with his legs.

Rangers did come on stronger in the final 15 mins but Briscoe and Theo Bailey-Jones both wasted chances that came their way.

Mickleover had to play out the last 10 minutes a man short after Kevin Grocott saw red for a rash challenge on Marshall and they should have paid the price on the stroke of 90 minutes when Alex Curtis delivered the perfect cross to the back post but somehow Thorley could only find the side netting with the goal at his mercy.

Stafford Rangers:1 Adam Whitehouse, 2 Lewis Banks, 3 Alex Curtis, 4 Luke Jones, 5 Jack Sherratt, 6 Tom Marshall, 7 Theo Bailey-Jones, 8 Tom Thorley, 9 Kyle Perry (12 Louis Briscoe 69m), 10 Harry Benns, 11 Joe Cuff (15 Izak Reid 63m). Unused Subs: 14 Josh Green, 16 James Askey, 17 Billy Reeves


Mickleover Sports: 1 Lewis King, 2 Kevin Grocott, 3 Mason Warren, 4 John McGrath, 5 Pablo Mills, 6 Ben Turner, 7 Curtis Burrows, 8 Ollie Roberts, 9 Jimmy Phillips, 10 Evan Garnett, 11 Niall Doran (14 Lewis Belgrave 30m). Unused Subs: 12 Will Norcross, 15 Clinton Morrison, 16 Isai Kersalia, 17 Jake Scott


Cautions: King (Mickleover)


Sent Off: Grocott (Mickleover)


Ref: Ben Cooke


Att : 618

Report by Chris Elsley | Photography by Wendy Hill

Mickleover Game

Due to the reorganisation of the Leagues at step 3 our “usual” bank holiday fixture with Hednesford disappeared. As we know, Hednesford were reinstated into the NPL with the demise of Shaw Lane but the league decided not to re jig all the fixtures, so we entertain Mickleover on a holiday fixture. Mickleover are one of our local games, mileage wise so we hope to receive some away following as we hope to swell the gate with the usual home crowd and some extras taking advantage of the bank Holiday. Mickleover too are a relatively young football club, being formed in 1948. This will be only the 9th meeting of the clubs and we hold a slight edge over them having won 4, drawn 2 and lost 2 scoring 11 and conceding 7. Should therefore make for a tight encounter where a large bank holiday crowd can cheer on the team and add much needed gate revenue to the club.

South Shields 3 – 0 Stafford Rangers

South Shields 3 – 0 Stafford Rangers

Rangers’ second long trip in eight days was anticipated to be a difficult test and it proved, just that. The game was end to end, in the most part, but the outcome took some swallowing.

In the first minute Shields showed their intent as Rangers were punished with a free kick wide on the left and Gary Brown glanced a header just wide. Rangers then got into their stride, with Joe Cuff being instrumental. Firstly intercepting a midfield pass, then running on to place a low shot wide of the post, before attacking down the left and pulling back for debutant Harry Benns but the ball was easily saved by Liam Connell.

Play then switched to the other end as a fine through ball found the dangerous Joshua Gillies and his shot was saved well by Adam Whitehouse. Back to the other end and Good work by Benns found Cuff and his effort was deflected for a corner. Theo Bailey-Jones was then the first Rangers player into the book for fouling Gillies, before he combined with Benns and firing across goal.

Shields then got into their stride as Gavin Cogdon forced a corner, Carl Finnigan showed some skill in wriggling through, but his cross was punched clear, then Ursene Mouanda had two efforts cleared for corners. Cogdon and Gillies then combined for a Dan Wright effort to be blocked before the deadlock was broken.

Cogdon received a slide rule pass down the left channel and beat Whitehouse with a powerful shot to give the hosts the lead. Wright then combined with Finnigan with the latter’s shot being saved by Whitehouse. Rangers then rallied as Cuff again attacked down the left and his effort was cleared back to him and his next effort across goal was cleared. The ball soon found its back into the box and Kyle Perry turned but his shot was blocked, before Bailey-Jones shot wide from twenty yards.

Another free kick was cleared after Benns was fouled, before Cuff chased all the way back into his own half only to be booked for pulling back Gillies. Billy Reeves replaced Jack Sherratt at half time as Steve Burr tried to stir things. Adams was put through early in the half, but Whitehouse saved his effort before Rangers started to look a little more settled with spell of controlled possession before Reeves fed Perry and hi shot was saved. Shields then went on the attack as Adams went down the left only for his effort to hit the side netting.

This was followed by Cogdon, again down the left, almost reaching the box but being blocked by Luke Jones who received his first yellow. The resultant free kick was cleared, and Rangers again broke, with Thorley going on an excellent run and his cross was met at the back post by Cuff, who managed to blast over rather than level the scores. Shields were starting to assert themselves again and Jones received his second as another break towards the Rangers box saw him adjudged to have raised a foot too high in winning the ball.

Understandably the hosts then poured on the pressure and on sixty-eight minutes Cogdon raced into the box and Whitehouse, probably harshly, was adjudged to have brought him down and Mr Urwin pointed straight to the spot, as well as booking Whitehouse. Substitute Robert Briggs stepped up and made no mistake for a two-nil lead. Cogdon was again denied by a block as Rangers regrouped in the latter stages as they offered no less than a decent spell of pressure and a shot curled wide by Reeves. Another shot from Cogdon was saved on eighty-six minutes before it was all wrapped up with a cheeky effort a minute later. Phil Turnbull lobbed the ball into the box where Finnigan controlled and flicked past Whitehouse for a final three-nil score line.

A harsh lesson but some flashes of potential from Boro as well as what is needed to progress. 

Rangers – Whitehouse, Banks, Curtis, Jones, Sherratt (Reeves 45), Marshall, Bailey-Jones (Askey 58), Thorley, Perry, Benns (Green 73), Cuff.
Bookings Jones 54&57, Whitehouse 68, Bailey-Jones 18

Att 1,363

Report by Alan Gee | Photography by Wendy Hill

Promising Vale Star Signs In

Promising Vale Star Signs In

Promising young attacker, Harry Benns 18, is joining The Boro on an initial one month loan deal from Port Vale. Harry has impressed enough to win a pro deal at Vale Park and comes highly recommended to Boro Boss, Steve Burr.

The deal should be finalised on Thursday when Benns meets up with the squad and will hopefully be available for selection at South Shields on Saturday.