Date Time Competition Season Day Att
28/11/2023 7:45 pm NPL Premier Division 2023/2024 Tue 422


Stafford Rangers marked the new era of Dave Cooke’s management with their first league win for 14 weeks, ending a 12 match winless run.

Cooke only took over the reins on Monday – although he had been a spectator at a number of Rangers’ recent games – and stood quietly in the Technical Area while Dale Belford continued with his familiar vocal instructions.

Rangers fielded the same starting XI that had been beaten at Ilkeston and almost gave their new boss the perfect start as Sam Bird forced a save from visiting keeper Nico Defreitas-Hansen while Ben Woods hooked a shot over the defence following the resultant corner.

Atherton responded with a shot from Enock Lusiama that was easily gathered by Cam Belford but it was Rangers who were the dominant force in the opening quarter.

Woods somehow managed to hit the post with the goal begging then missed another easy looking opportunity when his header went wide following a great first time ball from Sam Bird.

Having survived several scares, Atherton began to come more in to the game with Adam Dawson prominent in most of their approach play.

With few options on offer, Dawson tried his luck from the left hand side of the area, forcing Belford to turn the ball over for a corner then he picked out Lusiama but Belford was equal to the forward’s header.

As the visitors enjoyed what was to be their best period of the game, Andy Burns made a vital block to keep out the Atherton number 9 who saw another shot bounce wide. In between these two efforts, Belford saved another from former Stafford man Nathan Caine.

Rangers got themselves back on top but their problems in front of goal continued as both Kaiman Anderson and Ethan Stewart failed to find the target then another good drive across goal from Bird just eluded Nathan Blissett.

Just as it looked that half time would arrive with the sides on level terms, Blissett was first to a corner from Woods and Stewart pounced on the loose ball to fire Rangers ahead (45+3 mins).

It was Stewart who doubled the lead on 52 minutes with a flick on the outside of his right foot that sent the ball looping inside the far post after Bird and Blissett had combined on the right hand side.

A thumping volley from Joe Willis went inches wide as Rangers looked for a third.

At the other end, Burns was in outstanding form with blocks and clearances to ensure a clean sheet for Belford who ensured Rangers’ first win in 13 games with a parried save from Josh Solomon-Davies in the last action of the night.

Forward AJ Leitch-Smith was signed earlier in the day and came on for the last quarter of an hour. Although he didn’t quite mark his debut with a goal, he gave Rangers fans some encouraging signs.


Stafford: 1 Cam Belford, 5 Ethan Stewart, 6 Simon Njaria, 9 Nathan Blissett, 10 Kaiman Anderson (2 AJ Leitch-Smith 73m), 11 Joe Willis, 12 Niah Payne (3 Jay Ford 90+3m), 14 Andy Burns, 15 Taylor McMahon, 16 Sam Bird (4 Ethan Morgan 85m), 17 Ben Woods. Unused Subs: 7 Braulio ‘Edy’ Maieco, 8 Tyreece Onyeka

Atherton: 1 Nico Defreitas-Hansen, 2 Josh Solomon-Davies, 3 Jack Evans, 4 Dylan Moonan (15 Jordan Scanlon 76m), 5 Jordan Fagbola, 6 Dylan Thompson, 7 Adam Dawson, 8 Sidi Fofana, 9 Enock Lusiama, 10 Harvey Gregson (12 Ben Rydel 61m), 11 Nathan Caine. Unused Sub 14 Jordan Boone – only 3 subs named

Referee: David Hinton

Cautions: McMahon (Rangers), Moonan, Fagbola (Atherton)

Att: 422

Report by Chris Elsley



Marston Road
Marston Road, Stafford, Staffordshire, ST16 3BX

Stafford Rangers

1Cameron Belford
5Ethan Stewart 45', 51'
6Simon Njaria
9Nathan Blissett
10Kaiman Anderson 2
11Joe Willis
14Andrew Burns
15Taylor McMahon 33'
16Sam Bird 4
17Ben Woods
12Niah Payne 3
2A-Jay Leitch-Smith 10
3Jay Ford 12
4Ethan Morgan 16
8Tyreece Onyeka
7Edy Maieco

Atherton Collieries

1Nicholas Defreitas-Hansen
2Josh Solomon-Davies
3Jack Evans
4Dylan Moonan 14
5Jordan Fagbola
6Dylan Thompson
7Adam Dawson
8Sidi Fofana 68'
9Enoch Lusiama
10Harvey Gregson 12
11Nathan Caine
12Ben Rydel 10
14Jordan Boon 4
15Jordan Scanlon
Total Shots
Shots on Target
Yellow Cards
Red Cards

Stafford Rangers KO Atherton Collieries KO 33 45 51 61 68 72 77 85 90 FT

Past Meetings

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