Date Time Competition Season Day Att
23/12/2023 3:00 pm NPL Premier Division 2023/2024 Sat 1628


A much improved second half performance wasn’t enough to earn Stafford Rangers a share of the spoils after FC United of Manchester had cruised into a two goal first half lead.

The home side attacked from the off but their first real advance ended with forward Jordan Buckley getting a yellow card for diving with little over two minutes on the clock.

Ethan Stewart blocked a shot from Declan McLoughlin while Dontai Gabidon saw his effort come back off the post and Max Woodcock could only find Cam Belford with his follow up effort. Gabidon then fired over from 20 yards out before the home side went ahead on 14 minutes.

It was a super 25 yard strike from Declan McLoughlin but questions will be asked how the defender was allowed to advance unchallenged from the half way line.

Rangers had a couple half chances – the best falling to Nathan Blissett who headed wide at the near post – but largely they were second best to their hosts.

Buckley ended a counter attack with a shot high over the bar while Gabidon’s shot was blocked by Sam Bird.

The home side continued to control affairs. Belford parried a shot from McLoughlin and both Curtis Jones and Buckley saw shots blocked in a scramble in the Stafford area.

Stafford’s Joe Willis was just off target with a well struck drive while Belford made an important save to deny Gabidon who skipped past two challenges to get clear.

But FC United finished the half by doubling their advantage on 43 minutes. Charlie Ennis found Gabidon on the right and his low centre was turned into the net by Buckley.

Rangers simply hadn’t been good enough but a couple of half time substitutions – Tyreece Onyeka and Connor Hughes coming on for Blissett and A-Jay Leitch-Smith – saw them take the game to their hosts in the second half.

Sean Cooke forced Pat Boyes to make his first save of the afternoon before Rangers were gifted a way back into the game on 61 minutes when Curtis Jones chested the ball into his own net from Kaiman Anderson’s harmless looking centre.

Onyeka was blocked by Guy Hall from a tight angle then Willis headed just wide. A centre from Heath flashed across the face of goal with Anderson just failing to make contact. Stafford had certainly lifted their game.

Onyeka saw another effort blocked and Jones had to scramble away from Cooke.

A counter attack from Onyeka – coming after Buckley’s header had been blocked on the line – ended with a perfectly timed tackle from Hall then Cooke stubbed his shot tamely to Boyes.

But the home side still presented a threat when they attacked and Belford was twice called upon to keep Rangers in the contest. His first was a one on one to deny Buckley while his second was a more routine save from Charlie Ennis.

Heath skimmed the top of the FC United bar from 25 yards in what proved to be Stafford’s last effort on goal while Aaron Bennett missed a chance to increase the United lead when he hit the post in added time.

The result means that Rangers have now won just once in 18 league games and slip back to the bottom of the table as they head into the Christmas Holiday programme.

FC United: 1 Pat Boyes, 2 Declan McLoughlin, 3 Guy Hall, 4 Charlie Ennis, 5 Charlie Oliver, 6 Curtis Jones, 6 Max Woodcock (15 Luke Griffiths 80m), 8 Charlie Munro, 9 Jordan Buckley (12 Mikey Davies 90+2m), 10 Aaron Bennett, 11 Dontai Gabidon (16 Dan Lafferty 89m). Unused Subs, 13 Dimeji Willan, 14 Michael Donohue

Stafford: 1 Cam Belford, 2 Andy Burns, 3 Jack Shorrock, 4 Joe Willis, 5 Ethan Stewart, 6 Jake Moult, 7 A-Jay Leitch-Smith (15 Connor Heath 46m), 8 Sam Bird, 9 Nathan Blissett (16 Tyreece Onyeka 46m), 10 Sean Cooke, 11 Kaiman Anderson. Unused Subs: 12 Ben Woods, 14 Niah Payne, 17 Derek Ubah

Referee: Liam Corrigan

Cautions: Ennis, Buckley (FC United), Burns, Willis, Blissett (Stafford)

Att: 1628

Report by Chris Elsley




Broadhurst Park
310 Lightbowne Road, Moston, Manchester, Greater Manchester, North West England, England, M40 5HQ, United Kingdom

FC United of Manchester

1Patrick Boyes
2Declan McLoughlin 15'
3Guy Hall
4Paul Ennis 81'
5Charlie Oliver
6Curtis Jones 61'
7Max Woodcock 15
8Charlie Munro
9Jordan Buckley 12 43'
10Aaron Bennett
11Dontai Gabidon 16
12Michael Davies 9
14Michael Donohue
15Luke Griffiths 7
16Danny Lafferty 11
17Dimeji Willan

Stafford Rangers

1Cameron Belford
2Andrew Burns 90'
3Jack Shorrock
4Joe Willis 62'
5Ethan Stewart
6Jake Moult
7A-Jay Leitch-Smith 15
8Sam Bird
9Nathan Blissett 16 12'
10Sean Cooke
11Kaiman Anderson
12Ben Woods
14Niah Payne
15Connor Heath 7
16Tyreece Onyeka 9
17Derek Ubah
Total Shots
Shots on Target
Yellow Cards
Red Cards

FC United of Manchester Badge KO Stafford Rangers KO 3 12 15 43 45 45 61 62 80 81 89 90 90 FT

Past Meetings

Stafford RangersFC United of Manchester
FC United of ManchesterStafford Rangers
Stafford RangersFC United of Manchester
Stafford RangersFC United of Manchester
FC United of ManchesterStafford Rangers