Stafford Rangers’ lack of fire power was again evident as they were held to a goal-less draw by Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday.
Rangers have scored just 16 goals in 16 games, which is the poorest record of the teams in the top half of the table. Opponents Gainsborough have an even worse record in front of goal with just 10 goals to their name. With Rangers holding the best defensive record in the league, all the ingredients were there for a nil-niller and so it proved.
Joe Kenton was back in the starting line-up after missing Tuesday’s trip to Mickleover through injury with Alex-Ray Harvey dropping to the bench. Rangers were the better of the two sides in the first half, creating the better of the few chances on show. The first fell to defender Jimmy O’Neill at the near post but he headed over from Andy Burns’ cross.
A couple of minutes later, there was a scramble in the Rangers’ area with Brad Grayson in the thick of the action, but he was crowded out by the Boro defence and, when the ball finally ran loose, Lewis Butroid fired wide. A good turn from Jake Charles produced a shot on goal for Rangers but Harvey Cartwright saved before Lewis Carr cleared the immediate danger. Rangers kept up the pressure, but Ben Woods struck his low drive straight at the Gainsborough keeper.
Charles was unfortunate to be in the way of a shot from Kenton before Alex Fletcher fired over from 25 yards as Rangers stayed on top. But chances were limited and the best they had in the remainder of the half was Luca Navarro shooting wide after being put through by Charles.
Gainsborough were more positive after the break and had a great chance when Grayson’s pass found Liam Waldock in space, but Luke Pilling kept him out with his legs. Shortly after, Alex Wollerton fired wide from distance, but the contest became a stalemate as neither defence gave way. Gainsborough did have one last chance as Grayson fired across the face of goal in the final minute, but it was a day when neither side deserved anything more than the point they got.
Stafford Rangers: 13 Luke Pilling, 2 Andrew Burns, 3 Ben Woods, 4 Luca Navarro (14 Max McCarthy 60m), 5 Ethan Stewart, 6 James O’Neill, 7 Joe Kenton, 8 Tom Tonks, 9 Jake Charles, 10 Alex Fletcher, 11 Theo Bailey-Jones (15 Alex-Ray Harvey 88m). Unused Subs: 12 Omotolani Omotola, 16 Josh Endall, 17 Michael Lennon
Gainsborough Trinity: 1 Harvey Cartwright, 2 Joe Wilson, 3 Lewis Butroid, 4 Lewis Carr, 5 Neal Bishop, 6 Charlie Jemson, 7 Isaac Rice, 8 Liam Waldock, Bradley Grayson, 10 Alex Wollerton (15 Toby Gould 75m), 11 Rio Molyneaux (16 Harry Jessop 57m). Unused subs: 12 Callum Minkley, 14 Cieron Keane, 17 Jack Gibson
The Pitching In Northern Premier League Tuesday 12 October 2021
Stafford Rangers had to settle for a point from their trip to Mickleover on Tuesday night.
The Derbyshire side showed more resilience than they had three days earlier when they were beaten 4-0 at home by Morpeth, rarely giving Rangers a look in on goal. The Boro were forced to make one change days earlier with Theo Bailey-Jones replacing Joe Kenton who had injured his knee against Scarborough three days earlier. Also still absent through injury was Jon Moran. Mickleover had the first opening when the ball fell to the veteran Pablo Mills, but he skied his shot high over the bar.
The home side also created the next chance as Lee Holmes shot wide after cutting inside Ben Woods before Rangers slowly began to find their feet and Luca Navarro tried an ambitious first-time effort but could only find Mickleover keeper Callum Hawkins.
Bailey-Jones broke into the area after a Jake Charles lay off but was closed down quickly by Liam Ravenhill while Stewart shot wide following a corner. Half chances came and went for Tom Tonks, Charles and Navarro but the best chance of the half fell to the home side on 33 minutes when Andrew Wright picked out Jake Bennett with a great cross field ball, but Luke Pilling made an excellent stop.
It was a similar story in the second half. Tonks fired over and Navarro tamely at Hawkins in the early exchanges while Rangers had a minor scare when Pilling crashed into a post as he caught a looping header from Andy Dales. Pilling was involved in the key moment of the half when Dales broke clear, but the Rangers’ keeper once again proved unbeatable with another fine save and then scrambled across to smother the ball as it came off Andy Burns.
A night of plenty of effort from both sides but also lacking the touch of class needed to secure all three points but the Rangers camp are content with the progress made so far.
Mickleover: 1 Callum Hawkins, 2 Jake Bennett, 3 Jordan Gooch, 4 Joe Bateman, 5 James Butler, 20 Pablo Mills, 7 Liam Ravenhill, 8 Andrew Wright (6 Declan Bacon 86m), 9 Andy Dales, 15 Kemy Agustien, 11 Lee Holmes (14 Bobby Battison 27m). Unused Subs: 12 Josh Satchwell, 13 Roger Lee, 16 Mason Warren
Stafford Rangers: 13 Luke Pilling, 2 Andrew Burns, 3 Ben Woods, 4 Alex-Ray Harvey, 5 Ethan Stewart, 6 James O’Neill, 7 Theo Bailey-Jones, 8 Tom Tonks, 9 Jake Charles (12 Omotolani Omotola 70), 10 Alex Fletcher, 11 Luca Navarro (14 Max McCarthy 59m). Unused Subs: 15 Josh Endall, 16 Tom Carr, 17 Michael Lennon
The Pitching In Northern Premier League Saturday 9 October 2021
Stafford Rangers’ roller coaster season continued Saturday as they went down to Scarborough Athletic by a single goal. Rangers, who are yet to record consecutive victories this season, were without the injured Jon Moran giving Ethan Stewart the opportunity to make his debut following his arrival from Alfreton Town. The Boro had an early scare when Joe Kenton landed awkwardly after an aerial challenge with Ashley Jackson, but the clubs’ current top scorer was able to continue after treatment.
Rangers had several opportunities to use the danger weapon of Tom Tonks’ long throw but, all too often, it proved easy pickings for Scarborough’ Ryan Whitley. On one occasion when it did not reach the 6’4” keeper, Jake Charles tried an overhead kick, but Whitley was able to make a comfortable save.
Scarborough’s first real threat opportunity came after a run out of defence from Kieran Glynn, but Maloney’s shot skied over. Play quickly switched to the opposite end of the field and saw Luca Navarro create a good opening when he cut in from the left, but his shot could only find Whitley.
A tightly contested first half, it was Rangers who looked the most likely to break the deadlock and they should have done so when Alex-Ray Harvey pounced on a poor back pass from James Cadman, but the Rangers’ captain shot wide with just the keeper to beat.
Navarro went close again after turning Maloney, but Scarborough always posed a threat and Nathan Cartman was inches away from converting Cadman’s first time cross before putting another effort straight at Luke Pilling. In the latter stages of the half, Charles controlled well before shooting for goal. James O’Neill’s intervention could easily have diverted the ball past Whitley – instead, it went the wrong side of the post.
There were few chances created at either end in the early stages of the second half but gradually Scarborough began to pose a greater threat. A good crossfield ball from Cartman saw Cadman shoot straight at Pilling who also saved from Jacob Day after Maloney’s pass had put him through.
The breakthrough finally came on 70 minutes with a good move on the Scarborough right as Cadman linked with Josh Barrett. He squared for Cartman to slot home from around six yards out. Rangers searched for the equaliser with O’Neill and substitute Joe Cuff both denied by Whitley but the frustrations among the fans was clearly audible as Tonks’ throws were swallowed up by the Scarborough keeper.
Stafford Rangers: 13 Luke Pilling, 2 Andrew Burns, 3 Ben Woods, 4 Alex-Ray Harvey (15 Omotolani Omotola 71m), 5 Ethan Stewart, 6 James O’Neill, 7 Joe Kenton (12 Theo Bailey-Jones 46m), 8 Tom Tonks, 9 Jake Charles, 10 Alex Fletcher, 11 Luca Navarro (17 Joe Cuff 57m). Unused Subs: 14 Josh Endall, 16 Max McCarthy
Scarborough Athletic: 1 Ryan Whitley, 2 Josh Barrett, 3 Ashley Jackson, 4 Lewis Maloney, 5 Kieran Weledji, 6 Dylan Cogill, 7 James Cadman (12 Theo Hudson 90+3m), 8 Ryan Watson, 9 Nathan Cartman, 10 Jacob Day, 11 Kieran Glynn. Unused Subs 13 Michael Ingham (gk), 14 Michael Coulson, 15 Simon Heslop, 16 Nicholas Hutton
The PitchingIn Northern Premier League Tuesday 5 October 2021
Stafford Rangers bounced back from a run of below par performances with a solid display to bring all three points back from Lancaster City.
Goals from Jon Moran and Joe Kenton – either side of half time – both came against the run of play at a time when Lancaster were putting on the pressure and the home side were left to rue a number of missed chances, particularly in the first period.
Matty Hill made one change from the side beaten at Stalybridge on Saturday with Luca Navarro returning to the starting line-up. Josh Endall dropped to the bench with Ben Woods dropping back.
Rangers made a bright start with Jake Charles going close. He did well to turn his man but saw his shot blocked by Andy Teague and wide for a corner. Lancaster then created a series of good chances. Robert Wilson’s corner came off a couple of players before Lewis Fensome got his header in, but Luke Pilling made the save. A couple of minutes later, Moran made a vital intervention to clear from Teague.
Another opportunity was wasted when Niall Cowperthwaite attached Wilson’s free kick but headed over. But Rangers withstood the pressure and stunned the home side on 23 minutes when they took the lead – Jon Moran’s back header beating Matty Alexander following a long throw from Tom Tonks. Woods had to clear from Paul Dawson as Lancaster had a chance to level within a minute and, shortly after, a diving header from Christian Sloan went wide. Lancaster were troubled by Tonks’ throws and another on the half hour gave James O’Neill half a chance but he hooked his volley high over the bar.
The home side probably felt hard done by to be behind at the break, but they only had themselves to blame as they wasted a golden opportunity four minutes before the interval. Moran and O’Neill got caught out allowing Wilson to go clear but Pilling made a crucial block with his feet.
Both sides had chances early in the second half as O’Neill headed wide for Stafford while Rhys Turner threatened to unlock the Boro defence until Tonks stepped in. After a fairly even opening, Lancaster made a couple of substitutions which gave them a fresh impetus although the better chances fell to Rangers, notably when both Kenton and Charles had close range efforts blocked.
Moran picked up a caution when he brought down Turner midway inside the Stafford half as the Lancaster man threatened to go clear. Dawson wasted a good opportunity with a poor free kick which went high over the bar. A Dawson header went wide and more excellent defending from Woods dispossessed Tom Kilifin kept out Lancaster before Pilling parried a shot from Jacob Holland-Wilkinson. But, again, Rangers struck when they needed it most and Kenton stabbed home their second goal of the night on 77 minutes after Navarro’s corner had bounced off a couple of home players. The second goal killed off the Lancaster challenge as they never looked like getting back into the game and Rangers saw out time to record a much-needed victory.
Lancaster City: 1 Matty Alexander, 2 Lewis Fensome, 3 Liam Brockbank, 4 Niall Cowperthwaite, 5 Andy Teague, 6 Glenn Steel, 7 Christian Sloan (16 Tom Kilifin 57m), 8 Simon Wills, 9 Rhys Turner, 10 Paul Dawson, 11 Robert Wilson (17 Jacob Holland-Wilkinson 57m). Unused Subs 12 Sam Bailey, 14 Ben Hudson, 15 Ben Anderson
Stafford Rangers: 13 Luke Pilling, 2 Andrew Burns, 3 Ben Woods, 4 Alex-Ray Harvey, 5 Jon Moran, 6 James O’Neill, 7 Joe Kenton (15 Tom Carr 90+4m), 8 Tom Tonks, 9 Jake Charles, 10 Alex Fletcher, 11 Luca Navarro (12 Tyrone Ofori 90+1m). Unused Subs: 14 Josh Endall, 16 Ethan Stewart – only four subs named.
First half Stalybridge started the better and they were able to get the ball down and play which caused Rangers quite a few problems. Rangers found it very difficult to get up the pitch and never really got going on a damp Saturday afternoon. It didn’t take Stalybridge long to break the deadlock in the 34th minute they made it 1-0 after a cross down the left found its way to Marcus Dackers. Stalybridge were in full control of the first half – Rangers never looked like troubling the home side 1-0 at the break.
Second Half In truth things didn’t get any better for Rangers in the second half. They failed to pick up second balls and their number 9 Jake Charles was left isolated up front on his own. Stalybridge were much better in every department. In the 61st minute the home side doubled their lead from a free kick which ran through to Marcus Dackers where he was given far too much time and space and he punished Rangers by making the score line 2-0. Rangers did push forward in the final few minutes and were rewarded with a consolation goal in the 90th minute from Luca Navarro. The damage was unfortunately already done for Rangers and the game ended 2-1.
It was Witton Albion who got off to a flyer when they opened the scoring through their number two Isaac Baldwin. The goal was an unbelievable strike from outside the box, the Rangers defence failed to get tight to the opposition and they were able to produce one moment of quality. Rangers needed to wake up after the early stages. They looked much better as the half went on; they got used to Witton in terms of how they set up and began to control the ball. Witton were under the cosh. In the 22nd minute James O’Neill put Rangers back on level terms after a free-kick from Joe Cuff found its way to the centre half. He calmly slotted the ball in the right-hand corner. 1-1 all square at Marston Road. Rangers continued to push forward in the first half and had numerous chances to edge in front but unfortunately the score remained 1-1 at half time.
The second half saw Ranger’s huff and puff but to no avail. Witton seemed more than happy to frustrate the home side. There was lots of endeavour and certainly no lack of effort from both sides. Rangers had lots of the ball but were unable to really penetrate the opposition defence. They put the crosses in the box but nobody was there to get on the end of them. So yet another deeply frustrating evening for the Rangers as they drew 1-1 at home to Witton. We go again on Saturday against Stalybridge Celtic.
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