Pitching In Northern Premier League
Saturday 1 January 2022
Stafford Rangers began the new year in fine style, coming from behind to deny title challengers Buxton.
A draw would have sent the Derbyshire side to the top of the table but Rangers’ refusal to give up saw them score two late goals and take all three points.
Joe Cuff was the only absentee from the side held by Nantwich in the Bank Holiday Monday fixture with Theo Bailey-Jones taking over the number 11 shirt.
The home side created the first opportunity of the game as Warren Clarke headed over from close range but it was Rangers who broke the deadlock in the 20th minute when James O’Neill headed Tom Tonks’ corner into the roof of the net.
Buxton were soon back on level terms. Rangers missed a chance to clear their lines and there was some question whether Ash Chambers was offside when he ran to Tommy Elliott’s through ball but the influential midfielder calmly slotted past Tyrell Belford in the 26th minute.
With the wind in their backs, Buxton were in command but Josh Granite and Jason Gilchrist both missed out as their route to goal was blocked by resilient Stafford defending while Ben Middleton headed over.
Another Granite header was also off target before Belford kept out Clarke with his legs after the Buxton man looked set to score.
Rangers would have been happy to go in at the break with the scores level but they were undone within two minutes of the restart. Tom Dear played a defence splitting ball through to Elliott and, although his centre eluded Gilchrist, Clarke did well to keep the ball in play and set up Chambers with a simple header to put Buxton in front.
Soon after, Belford had to go full stretch to his left to turn away a shot from Clarke while Granite’s 20 yarder landed on the roof of the net.
Midway through the half, the Stafford defence was opened up again and Gilchrist put the ball in the net only to see the offside flag raised.
Chambers went within a whisker of completing his hat trick but Buxton’s failure in front of goal was to prove costly as Stafford staged their late comeback.
With a little over five minutes left on the clock, a short corner from Tonks was floated to the back post by Michael Tait and Ethan Stewart headed home.
Three minutes later, Jake Charles chased a long clearance from Belford and lobbed Theo Richardson to send the travelling fans home happy.
Buxton: 1 Theo Richardson, 2 Ben Middleton, 3 Nathan Fox, 4 Lindon Meikle, 5 Josh Granite, 6 Chris Dawson, 7 Dom Tear, 8 Ash Chambers, 9 Jason Gilchrist, 10 Tommy Elliott, 11 Warren Clarke. Unused Subs: 12 Ben Milnes, 15 Akeem Hinds, 16 Jack Dillingham, 17 Ewan Carr – only four subs named
Stafford Rangers: 1 Tyrell Belford, 2 Andrew Burns, 3 Joe Dunne, 4 Alex-Ray Harvey, 5 Ethan Stewart, 6 James O’Neill, 7 Joe Kenton, 8 Tom Tonks, 9 Jake Charles, 10 Alex Fletcher, 11 Theo Bailey-Jones (12 Michael Tait-Moran 62m). Unused Subs: 14 Khaellem Bailey-Nicholls, 15 Tre Pemberton, 16 Ben Woods, 17 Jon Moran
Cautions: Dawson (Buxton), Charles, Dunne (Rangers)
Referee: Oliver Nolan
Report: Chris Elsley