Stafford Rangers returned to the scene of their FA Cup triumph a month earlier, but they were unable to boost their league points tally as the home side ran out deserved winners. The first period was played largely in the Stafford half with Buxton looking to take an early advantage.
Diego De Girolamo was given the first opportunity on 5 minutes after a poor clearance from Lewis King had been picked up by James Walshaw, but De Girolamo’s shot went high over. A couple minutes later, Chris Dawson struck the ball well but straight at King and the Rangers keeper was on call again when he parried another strike from De Girolamo.
The home side kept up the pressure and King saved well from Dawson before Tommy Elliott’s drive went just over. But Rangers, missing the suspended Joe Cuff and unfit Michael Williams, nearly opened the scoring with their first meaningful attack as Joe Kenton sent Callum Coyle clear on the right but the ball came back off the crossbar and Buxton were able to clear.
Stafford changed shape with Kenton playing a more forward role and Aaron Cole moving back but Buxton were still able to put together wave after wave of attacks. King saved from De Girolamo and Dawson before the home side finally made the breakthrough in the 39th minute.
The goal came after a period of danger at the other end, but James Hurst cleverly launched a counterattack. De Girolamo ran the ball across the edge of the area before picking out Elliott who clipped his shot over King.
Rangers made a bright start to the second half and could have levelled when Kenton cut out a poor clearance from Tom Taylor in the home goal. Kenton advanced into the area before shooting over under the challenge of Josh Granite. Shouts for a penalty were ignored by the referee.
At the other end, Elliott hit the side netting before De Girolamo extended Buxton’s lead on 62 mins after the lively forward jinked his way into a shooting position following a long ball from Billy Whitehouse. De Girolamo should have made it three on 75 minutes after being tripped in the area by Alex-Ray Harvey but his spot kick was poor, and King saved with his feet. Rangers’ let off was to last just a minute as they stood off to let Reece Styche fire in from more than 25 yards to put the outcome beyond doubt.
To their credit, Rangers did show some spirit in the final stages and after Jamie Sleigh had linked with Coyle, Candlin scored a consolation on 85 minutes – just Rangers’ third league goal in eight outings. Sleigh had a chance to further reduce the arrears, but his header lacked power and direction while both Cole and King were needed to prevent Elliott from scoring a fourth for Buxton.
Buxton: 1 Tommy Taylor, 2 Connor O’Grady, 3 Warren Clarke, 4 James Hurst, 5 Josh Granite, 6 Matt Kilgallon (15 Billy Whitehouse 46m), 7 James Walshaw (12 Reece Styche 69m), 8 Reece King, 9 Diego De Girolamo, 10 Tommy Ellioitt, 11 Chris Dawson (16 Charlie Wakefield 83m). Unused Subs, 14 Sam Wedgbury, 17 Danny Hopkins
Stafford Rangers: 1 Lewis King, 2 Joe Kenton (15 Reece Jones 53m), 3 Cieron Keane, 4 Ben Forrest, 5 Sam Coulson, 6 John Welsh (14 Mo Sebbeh-Njie 83m), 7 Aaron Cole, 8 Alex Ray Harvey, 9 Mitchel Candlin, 10 Callum Coyle, 11 Josh Williams (16 Jamie Sleigh 73m). Unused Subs: 12 Dan Burns, 13 Adam Whitehouse Ref: Jake Topp Cautions: Keane (Rangers)
Manager less Stafford Rangers went out of the FA Trophy at St Ives Town, but it was much improved performance from the NPL’s bottom club and only a last-minute penalty denied them victory. Caretaker manager Matt Hill changed the formation back to 4-4-2 and it was a plan that appeared to work as Rangers deservedly took a 13th minute lead through Joe Cuff.
The club’s leading scorer had already gone close in the first minute before he was picked out by Callum Coyle’s pass and advanced to fire past Martin Conway. The goal woke the home side up and their main outlet, Michael Gyashi, came close to an equaliser with a shot from distance after cutting inside from the left but Lewis King watched it go past the outside of his right hand post.
King then made a good save to deny Ben Seymour-Shove following a quick free kick on the St Ives left. Chances at either end became limited, but Rangers still looked comfortably in control of affairs on a heavy pitch. The home side were more prominent in the second half and the game opened up. Appeals for a penalty when Seymour-Shove went to ground were waved away. Rangers immediately countered and Coyle had half a chance to chip Conway, but the ball didn’t sit kindly, and the opportunity had gone.
Aaron Cole – making his first start for Rangers – headed into the side netting from Cieron Keane’s corner before Gyasi ended a St Ives break by shooting over. King made another good save when Seymour-Shove looked set to level after Brett Solkhon’s header had found him in space.
A speculative overhead kick from Ed Hottor was on target but straight at King who then saved at his near post from Gyasi. At the opposite end Conway had to push Cole’s free kick over the bar but St Ives were posing the greater threat and it needed a timely clearance from Sam Coulson after King had parried Michael Harding’s shot. The home side finally found a way past King in the 90th minute courtesy of a Dylan Williams penalty after Coulson had fouled Seymour-Shove.
And so, to penalties. The two sides successfully converted their first kicks but after Solkhon had put St Ives 2-1 up, Mitch Candlin saw his kick saved. Coulson skied his leaving Ben Toseland to put the home side through 4-1.
St Ives Town: 1 Martin Conway, 2 Liam Bateman, 3 Jacob Ballinger (12 Ben Toseland 83m), 4 Michael Gyasi, 5 Oran Jackon, 6 Brett Solkhon, 7 Ben Seymour-Shove, 8 Luke Howell, 9 Dylan Williams, 10 Ed Hottor (16 Michael Harding 74m), 11 Nathan Hicks. Unused Subs: 14 Kyle Lincoln, 15 Dan Clifton, 17 Mihayl Mitkov
Stafford Rangers: 1 Lewis King, 2 Michael Williams (17 Joe Kenton 41m), 3 Cieron Keane, 4 Sam Coulson, 5 Ben Forrest, 6 John Welsh, 7 Aaron Cole (15 Josh Williams 83m), 8 Alex-Ray Harvey, 9 Mitch Candlin, 10 Callum Coyle (16 Mo Sebbeh-Njie 83m), 11 Joe Cuff. Unused Subs: 12 Dan Burns, 14 Reece Jones
Ref: Alistair Wilson
Cautions: Cuff, Kenton (Rangers)
Goals: St Ives: D Williams 90 pen, Rangers: Cuff 13m
Penalty kicks: St Ives: Hicks, Solkhon, D Williams, Toseland – all scored; Rangers: Cuff scored, Candlin, Coulson both missed
Stafford Rangers’ problems at the foot of the Northern Premier League deepened with a heavy defeat at home to Atherton Collieries and, to add to the Boro’s woes, they had Joe Cuff sent off midway through the second half.
It was even stevens while the scores were level and Rangers could even count themselves unlucky not to have been given an early advantage when Atherton keeper Danny Taberner got caught in possession on the edge of his area under pressure from Cuff. Appeals for handball outside the area against the visiting keeper fell on deaf ears as the referee waved play on.
Earlier, Callum Coyle had wasted a good chance when well placed on the edge of the area – his shot going high and wide. Atherton had a penalty claim waved away when Gareth Peet went to ground but it was Rangers who looked the most likely to open the scoring as Coyle ended a smart move with a shot that was deflected wide.
Atherton grabbed the opening goal of the evening on 29 minutes. Ben Conway linked with Marcus Cusani to put Elliot Rokka away on the right, stretching the Rangers’ defence and Dylan Glass was on hand to finish off from close range.
For a side who has only managed two league goals all season – one of them being an own goal – the psychological effect of falling a goal behind was clear for all to see. Less than two minutes after their opener, Atherton broke clear through Conway and only a good block from Lewis King prevented the visitors from extending their lead.
Danny Lafferty’s header past King was ruled out due to a foul but Atherton extended their lead a minute into added time via a deflected free kick from Rokka after Liam Langford had inexplicably conceded possession just inside the Stafford half.
The second half commenced with Sam Coulson on as a replacement for Langford, but things did not improve as Atherton created the early chances with Peet’s free kick hitting the side netting and Cusani shooting over after cutting in from the left. Mitch Candlin’s ball over the top of the Atherton defence almost put Cuff in but Taberner came out of his area to win the race and clear the danger. Soon after, Taberner beat Cuff to another 50-50. The Stafford man caught the keeper, but the yellow card shown was harsh.
Less than four minutes after the first yellow, the same two players were involved in yet another 50-50 and Taberner’s theatrical antics saw Cuff dismissed for a second yellow. An already tough task then became an almost impossible one when Atherton extended their lead still further as Rick Smith’s back post header following Vinny Bailey’s deep free kick found its way past King.
The final score could have been worse had there been a visiting player to finish off Peet’s square ball or sub Niall Battersby not been denied by King. For Rangers, their evening was summed up by the fact that it took until two minutes into added time for them to create an effort on target but Candlin’s header was straight at Taberner.
Stafford Rangers: 1 Lewis King, 2 Liam Langford (14 Sam Coulson 29m), 3 Joe Kenton, 4 Ben Forrest, 5 Dan Burns, 6 John Welsh, 7 Reece Jones (16 Cieron Keane 53m), 8 Alex-Ray Harvey, 9 Joe Cuff, 10 Callum Coyle (15 Michael Williams 77m), 11 Mitch Candlin. Unused Subs: 12 Aaron Cole, 17 Matt Hill
Atherton Collieries: 1 Danny Taberner, 2 Clive Smith, 3 Gareth Peet, 4 Danny Lambert, 5 Danny Lafferty, 6 Rick Smith, 7 Ben Conway (16 Jack Lenehan 71m), 8 Vinny Bailey, 9 Dylan Glass (12 Jordan Darr 74m), 10 Elliot Rokka (15 Jack Banister 81m), 11 Marcus Cusani. Unused Subs: 13 Elliot Wynne, 14 Niall Battersby
Ref: Steve Durnall
Cautions: Langford, Welsh (Rangers)
Sent Off: Joe Cuff – two cautions (Rangers)
Goals: Atherton Collieries: Glass 29, Rokka 45+1, R Smith 72
Stafford Rangers missed out on a place in the 1st Round Proper of the FA Cup after being dumped out by the lowest ranked side left in the competition. Rangers were looking for their first appearance against the League teams since going out to Brighton in 2006 but the visitors have to go back 50 years for the last time that they reached that stage and it was clear from early on that the visitors were going to make this a tough afternoon for the Boro, despite the two leagues difference.
Rangers – unchanged from the side beaten at Basford in midweek – had the early openings with Jamie Sleigh and Joe Cuff both missing out in the opening five minutes but Skem were soon on the attack themselves as Dan Mitchley put Emini Adegbenro through only for a crucial tackle from Michael Williams to halt his progress. But, in the 10th minute, the visitors were ahead. While Cieron Keane and Liam Langford both waited for the other to take control, Lloyd Ellams nipped in. Mitchley picked out Adegbenro in space and he advanced to slot the ball past Lewis King. Sam Coulson missed a great opportunity to level soon after when he failed to make sufficient contact from Keane’s corner. It was the first of several chances to fall to the defender in front of the Skem goal.D espite the early setback, Rangers had most of the first half play but saw shots from Keane and John Welsh fly off target.
Welsh then put Sleigh in, but he lost his footing at the vital stage before Ben Barnes had to tip over a deep centre from Langford that was heading for the top corner. An unmarked Coulson headed over then Welsh hit the side netting before Barnes ensured his side would take the lead into the interval by tipping Coulson’s looping header over the bar. The visitors were the better team at the start of the second half and it needed a great challenge from Langford to halt another threatening run from Adegbenro.
The two sides traded opportunities. Barnes took no chance as he pushed a Williams shot away for a corner even though the shot looked to be heading wide. At the other end Michael Grogan was unconvincing from 18 yards out and his shot ended wide of the target. Defender Grogan was more up to his task with a double block to deny Langford and Cuff before King saved well from Ellams.
But it was Ellams who doubled Skem’s lead on 65 mins with a header beyond the reach of King following an Alex Griffiths free kick. Cuff forced another fingertip save from Barnes before another chance went begging for Rangers as neither Langford nor Coulson could manage to get a shot in. Barnes saved well from a Cuff header before Rangers’ leading scorer gave his side a lifeline with 12 minutes remaining when he hooked home Keane’s cross.
Barnes kept out a similar effort from Cuff before Skem wrapped up the tie with two late goals. The first came from the penalty spot on 88 mins after Richard Brodie made the most of the opportunity as King tried to force him wide and Adegbenro netted. With the tie in the bag, Ellams rubbed salt in Rangers’ wounds two minutes later when he was given time and space to advance to the edge of the area before thumping the ball past King.
Stafford Rangers: 1 Lewis King, 2 Michael Williams, 3 Cieron Keane, 4 Sam Coulson, 5 Liam Langford, 6 John Welsh, 7 Muhammed Sebbeh-Njie (12 Callum Coyle 46m), 8 Alex-Ray Harvey (15 Mitch Candlin 62m), 9 Jamie Sleigh, 10 Joe Cuff, 11 Joe Kenton. Unused Subs: 14 Dan Burns, 16 Reece Jones, 17 Aaron Cole, 18 Joe Morley, 19 Ben Forrest
Skelmersdale United: 1 Ben Barnes, 2 Joe Herbert, 3 Callum Preston, 4 Daniel Murphy, 5 Michael Grogan, 6 Gabriel Ellis (17 Alex Davies 56m), 7 Jack Grimshaw (14 Richard Brodie 86m), 8 Lloyd Ellams, 9 Daniel Mitchley, 10 Alex Griffiths (16 Stephen Wainwright 90+2m), 11 Emini Adegbenro. Unused Subs 12 Jay Webb, 13 Cameron Glennon, 15 Thomas Grimshaw, 18 Alex O’Neill
It was a familiar story for Stafford Rangers as they slipped to their fifth league defeat in six outings – a record that sees them stuck at the bottom of the table. The inability to score goals once again proved Rangers’ undoing in a game where they dominated play for 75 minutes.
In contrast to the poor showing against FC United three days earlier, Rangers looked positive from the off with a good passing game that saw them create a number of chances but they failed to make possession count and pretty football will get you nowhere without an end product. Joe Cuff was the first to try his luck with a 25 yarder, but it was straight at home keeper Jordan Pierrepont.
A couple of minutes later, Cuff sent a ball flying across the face of the Basford goal with no Stafford player on hand to add the finish. After Liam Langford had headed over from a corner, Joe Kenton tested the keeper following his run from midfield and though Pierrepont spilled the shot, he was able to recover before Mo Sebbeh-Njie could get in.
The best chance of the half fell to Jamie Sleigh at the back post, but he was at full stretch and unable to convert Kenton’s cross. Twice the home keeper had to come out of his area as Rangers threatened to open the scoring – firstly just beating Cuff to a ball over the top then clattering into Sleigh, leaving the Stafford man requiring treatment.
Basford looked sharper at the start of the second half without really posing a threat to the Stafford goal – a glanced header from Niall Towell going across goal then a shot high over from Kyle Dixon being the nearest they came. Rangers should have gone ahead on the hour when Mo Sebbeh-Njie put Cuff through after dispossessing Callum Chettle, but Cuff declined to shoot, instead trying a return pass and the chance was lost.
Sebbeh-Njie produced Rangers’ best effort of the game after Cieron Keane’s centre was only half cleared but Pierrepont managed to tip the ball onto the post. Chettle and sub Alex Howes both wasted good chances for Basford before captain Stef Galinski powered home a 71st minute header from Ryan Wilson’s corner. Rangers threw on Fis Adarabioyo and debutant Aaron Cole in an attempt to get back level, but the Basford defence denied them a look in as the winless streak was extended to six games.
Basford United: 1 Jordan Pierrepont, 2 Dom Roma, 3 Ryan Wilson, 4 Declan Dunn, 5 Stef Galinski, 6 Lewis Carr, 7 Kyle Dixon (15 Brad Gascoigne 83m), 8 Callum Chettle, 9 Niall Towell (18 Alex Howes 65m), 10 Kane Richards, 11 Rev James (16 Wayde Hines 90m). Unused Subs 12 Matt Thornhill, 14 James Clifton
Stafford Rangers: 1 Lewis King, 2 Michael Williams, 3 Cieron Keane, 4 Sam Coulson, 5 Liam Langford, 6 John Welsh (16 Aaron Cole 79m), 7 Mo Sebbeh-Njie, 8 Alex-Ray Harvey, 9 Jamie Sleigh (14 Fis Adarabioyo 74m), 10 Joe Cuff, 11 Joe Kenton. Unused Subs 12 Reece Jones, 15 Callum Coyle, 17 Ben Forrest
Stafford Rangers are still looking for their first league win of the season after going down in a largely disappointing display away to FC United on Saturday. Rangers were unable to follow up on the performance that saw them beat Hereford in the FA Cup four days earlier and for much of the game they were on the defensive as the home side did most of the pressing.
A slip inside the first minute for Michael Williams set the tone for the afternoon. The defender picking up a caution for a foul on Regan Linney after the FC wide man looked set to take advantage. The free kick went harmlessly through to Lewis King but United were on the hunt for an early breakthrough, but Dan Cockerline was unable to get any direction on his header while Aaron Morris fired wide from 20 yards.
Williams made an excellent tackle to halt a threatening run from Linney but, seconds later, Fin Sinclair-Smith broke clear only for King to come out quickly and make the block. Paul Ennis struck a free kick into the Stafford wall and saw the deflected follow up bounce up and just over.
After a quick team talk while Williams was receiving treatment for injury, Rangers created their first real opening with Mo Sebbeh-Njie’s shot going out for a corner off Michael Potts. And it was the Boro who took the lead on 27 minutes when Joe Kenton found space on the right and delivered a low centre which Sebbeh-Njie converted at the near post.
But the visitors failed to build on the lead and Williams was forced into a vital tackle to halt Linney before King pulled off a stunning save to deny Michael Donohue when his header looked a goal all the way. King punched away another header – a looping effort from Curtis Jones – before keeping out a 35th minute penalty from Ennis, controversially awarded against John Welsh for a trip on the latter.
But luck finally turned against Rangers and the home side levelled on 40 minutes when Fin Sinclair-Smith’s cross deflected up and the 6’ 4” Dan Cockerline got in before King to send a back header in to the net. The home side then produced a couple of chances to give themselves an interval lead, but it was all square at the turn around.
FC United still held the upper hand in the second half as Williams blocked Linney and Cockerline poked over from 6 yards as he stretched to meet Adam Dodd’s centre. Cockerline was in again from Aaron Morris’s ball through the defence but this time it was Joe Kenton who made the vital intervention before Michael Fowler hit the side netting.
The warning signs were clear, but Rangers didn’t see them, and Fowler was left unchallenged on 71 minutes to head FC United in front from Dodd’s left-wing cross. The home side were content with their lead while Rangers never threatened to get back on level terms and there were few chances to add to the score in the final 20 minutes.
FC United: 1 Dan Lavercombe, 2 Aaron Morris, 3 Adam Dodd, 4 Michael Donohue, 5 Chris Doyle, 6 Curtis Jones, 7 Fin Sinclair Smith (12 Morgan Homson-Smith 81m), 8 Michael Potts, 9 Dan Cockerline, 10 Paul Ennis (14 Michael Fowler 59m), 11 Regan Linney (15 Morgan Penfold 81m). Unused Subs: 16 Joseph White, 17 Kain Dean
Stafford Rangers: 1 Lewis King, 2 Michael Williams, 3 Cieron Keane, 4 John Welsh, 5 Sam Coulson, 6 Mo Sebbah-Njie, 7 Joe Kenton, 8 Alex-Ray Harvey, 9 Jamie Sleigh (14 Fis Adarabioyo 66m), 10 Callum Coyle (12 Reece Jones 59m), 11 Joe Cuff. Unused Subs 15 Ben Forrest, 16 Matt Hill – only four subs named