Date Time Competition Season Day Att
13/04/2024 3:00 pm NPL Premier Division 2023/2024 Sat 302


Stafford Rangers have no more room for error after a dismal defeat at fellow strugglers Atherton Collieries.

It was a game that Rangers really had to win to give themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation but once again, they let themselves down.

Conditions weren’t great. A poor pitch and strong win, combined with two sides at the wrong end of the table, made up for poor ingredients and they served up poor fare.

Kicking down the slope, Rangers started in a positive manner and saw Joe Willis fire just wide from the edge of the area. A minute later, A-Jay Leitch-Smith drilled the ball across the face of the Atherton goal.

Having survived the early pressure, the home side made their first showing when Ben Rydel hit the side netting after a period of possession.

Rangers remained the brighter of the two sides but appeals for a penalty when Sean Cooke went down under the challenge of Lewis Thompson weren’t answered in the affirmative.

Referee Thomas Harland was the centre of attention on 18 minutes when he sent Dave Chadwick from the home dug out. The Atherton manager had picked up the ball before it had gone out of play. A yellow card was also shown – apparently to the Atherton kit man.

As Rangers struggled to gel, the home side grew in confidence and Mo Ali had a free header from Rydel’s corner but the ball bounced up and over.

The killer goal came in the 38th minute. A free kick from Rydel wasn’t dealt with and the Atherton captain sent in a deep cross from the right. Jack Evans did well to work an opening and got in a shot to which Dylan Thompson stuck out a foot and claimed the final touch as Cam Belford was beaten.

Stafford has a couple of half chances in the closing stages of the half with Willis sending a dipping shot just over and Kian Taylor hitting his effort straight at Tom Donaghy.

Kaiman Anderson wasted a great chance to level the scores early in the second half when he fired over from a tight angle with Sean Cooke and Leitch-Smith in support.

At the other end, Jordan Scanlon came within a whisker of doubling Atherton’s lead when he struck the Stafford cross bar from around 18 yards out.

Two more penalty appeals were turned down as Cooke went to ground too easily while Leitch-Smith went close with a shot into the side netting after being picked out by Stafford sub Connor Heath.

Jimmy O’Neill also went close with a header but, as Rangers threw bodies up in the final minutes, it was Atherton who looked most likely to score.

Oli Putnam saw his effort deflected up and over for a corner while Enock Lusiama was denied when Andy Burns did just enough to deflect his shot wide of the post. The final chance fell to Kyle King who was sent clear by Lusiama but Belford made the save.
To avoid the drop, Rangers must win at least one of their last two games and avoid defeat in the other while hoping that both Basford United and Bradford Park Avenue lose both of their two remaining fixtures.


Atherton Collieries: 1 Tom Donaghy, 2 Mo Ali (17 Enock Lusiama 76m), 3 Lewis Thompson, 4 Teddy Mfuni, 5 Jack Evans, 6 Dylan Thompson, 7 Ben Rydel, 8 Ahmed Ali, 9 Oli Putnam (14 Kyle King 84m), 10 Jordan Scanlon, 11 Dylan Moonan. Unused Subs 12 Bobby Fenlon, 15 Liam Shepherd, 16 Bobby Layton

Stafford Rangers: 1 Cam Belford, 2 Andy Burns, 3 George Burroughs, 4 Joe Willis, 5 Ethan Stewart, 6 Jimmy O’Neill (17 Luke Draysey 82m), 7 A-Jay Leitch-Smith, 8 Owen German, 9 Kaiman Anderson, 10 Sean Cooke, 11 Kian Taylor (15 Connor Heath 62m). Unused Subs: 12 Lewis Porter, 14 Isaac Lee, 16 Jack Stafford,

Referee: Thomas Harland
Cautions: Putnam (Atherton), Belford, Burroughs (Stafford)
Sent Off: Dave Chadwick (Atherton Manager)
Att: 302

Report by Chris Elsley




Skuna Stadium
Alderfold Street, Atherton, Wigan, Greater Manchester, North West England, England, M46 9EU, United Kingdom

Atherton Collieries

1Tom Donaghy
2Mo Ali 17
3Lewis Thompson
4Teddy Mfuni
5Jack Evans
6Dylan Thompson 38'
7Ben Rydel
8Ahmed Ali
9Oliver Putnam 14 81'
10Jordan Scanlon
11Dylan Moonan
12Bobby Fenlon
14Kyle King 9
15Liam Sheppard
16Ben Layton
17Enoch Lusiama 2

Stafford Rangers

1Cameron Belford 60'
2Andrew Burns
3George Burroughs 71'
4Joe Willis
5Ethan Stewart
6James O’Neill 17
7A-Jay Leitch-Smith
8Owen German
9Kaiman Anderson
10Sean Cooke
11Kian Taylor 15
12Lewis Porter
14Isaac Lee
15Connor Heath 11
16Jack Stafford
17Luke Draysey 6
Total Shots
Shots on Target
Yellow Cards
Red Cards

Atherton Collieries KO Stafford Rangers KO 38 60 62 71 77 81 82 84 FT

Past Meetings

Stafford RangersAtherton Collieries
Stafford RangersAtherton Collieries
Atherton CollieriesStafford Rangers
Atherton CollieriesStafford Rangers
Stafford RangersAtherton Collieries