|18/11/2023||3:00 pm||Isuzu FA Trophy||2023/2024||Sat||582|
Caretaker manager Dale Belford was unable to mark his new role with a win but saw a battling display from his Stafford Rangers side to come within a whisker of causing an upset in this FA Trophy tie.
Belford took on the role after the club parted company with Matt Hill on Thursday following a poor set of results that had yielded just two points from a possible 33.
On a greasy surface, Rangers went toe to toe with their National League North opponents and were the better of the two sides in the first half.
Brackley showed a little more about themselves after the break and it needed a could of excellent saves from Cam Belford to end the game into penalties where the visitors ultimately won through.
Brackley had the better of the opening 10 minutes with Alfie Bates managing a shot on target but it wasn’t one to trouble the Stafford keeper.
One of the reasons for Rangers’ troubles this season is a lack of goals. Shots on target have been at a minimum and it was the one feature that was once again lacking.
Kaiman Anderson fired wide after a lay off from Niah Payne well Sam Bird’s effort was deflected over for a corner off Alex Gudger.
Rangers were growing in confidence as Joe Willis fired high after a good touch to take the ball away from Gareth Dean.
Brackley went close to snatching the lead moments before half time but a combination of Ben Woods and Taylor McMahon forced a corner.
From the flag kick, Belford saved well turning Dean’s header onto the post.
The visitors looked a little sharper after the break with Dan Turner shooting just wide. The Stone born player had earlier angered the Stafford camp with what appeared to be an elbow to the face of Andy Burns which received no more punishment than a free kick.
Brackley won a couple of free kicks of their own in dangerous positions but both Layton Love and Shepherd Murombedzi saw their efforts blocked by the Stafford wall. Another shot from Turner was saved by Belford.
Belford parried a shot from Murombedzi and held on to a back header from Morgan Roberts.
In between, Rangers had a chance when the ball fell to Woods but his shot was deflected wide off Cosmos Matwasa.
Brackley put on the pressure to find a winner in the final minutes but excellent saves from Belford kept out Dominic McHale to send the tie into penalties.
Love netted the first spot kick for the visitors but Ethan Stewart dragged his wide.
Roberts and Simon Njaria both scored before a miss from Bates put matters level.
But Joe Willis was unable to take advantage as his kick was saved.
Murombedzi and Sam Bird both scored their kicks before Gudger clinched a 4-2 win for the visitors.
Stafford: 1 Cam Belford, 5 Ethan Stewart, 6 Simon Njaria, 9 Nathan Blissett, 10 Kaiman Anderson (4 Ethan Morgan 75m), 11 Joe Willis, 12 Niah Payne (3 Aaron Braithwaite 79m), 14 Andy Burns, 15 Taylor McMahon, 16 Sam Bird, 17 Ben Woods. Unused Subs 2 James Carvell, 7 Lewis Keeling, 8 Tyreece Onyeka, 13 Jack Sandel.
Brackley: 1 Danny Lewis, 2 George Carline, 3 Riccardo Clader, 4 Shepherd Murombedzi, 5 Alex Gudger, 6 Gareth Dean, 7 Cosmas Matwasa, 8 Alfie Bates, 11 Dan Turner (14 Morgan Roberts 73m), 12 Jimmy Armson (10 Dominic McHale 81m), 21 Layton Love. Unused Subs 13 Ali Worby, 15 Tyler Lyttle, 18 Tommy O’Sullivan, 19 Zak Lilly.
Referee: Lewis Dawson
Cautions: Njaria, Dale Belford (Stafford); Bates, Armson, McHale (Brackley)
Report by Chris Elsley
KO KO 36 63 70 73 75 78 81 88 FT