Date Time Competition Season Day Att
27/01/2024 3:00 pm NPL Premier Division 2023/2024 Sat 645


The start of 2024 is threatening to replicate the start of 2023 as Stafford Rangers point-less start to the year continued with defeat at home to Ilkeston Town.

Rangers lost their opening five games of last year and Saturday’s result made it four from four in 2024. To make matters worse, Rangers are yet to score a goal in this year.

With manager Dave Cooke missing the game due to undergoing an operation, Dale Belford took charge and there was a surprise with the omission of Jake Moult from the squad. Loan signing Isaac Lee came in to the centre of defence. Simon Njaria also dropped out of the starting line up.

Ilkeston created the first chances with Tom Cursons putting in a shot straight at Cam Belford and stabbing another opportunity over the cross bar.

Rangers looked a more determined outfit than of late and, having withstood the early attacks from the visitors, started to create their own chances with the best falling to Sean Cooke who chipped over the bar from 25 yards.

Rangers got bodies in the area but Ilkeston defended in numbers, none more so when Kaiman Anderson was crowded out while desperately trying to find space.

Ilkeston finished the half on top. Belford was forced to make a couple of saves – going low to his left to keep out a dipping volley from Dec Eratt-Thompson then denying Curson once more while Anderson found himself in a defensive role to block shots. From these, Rangers launched a counter attack through Tyreece Onyka but neither Cooke nor Connor Hughes could get a clear shot on goal.

Right on the stroke of half time, Ilkeston’s Luke Cox headed wide when he should have hit the target.

Half chances came and went at both ends before Heath missed out on a golden opportunity for Rangers. He latched on to a through ball from Ethan Stewart and did well to beat two visiting defenders to go clear on goal. With just the keeper to beat, Heath was unable to execute the task. The unfortunate Onyeka had no time to react to the rebound as it bounced off him and Sam Parker cleared off the line.

It was following another Rangers attack that Ilkeston opened the scoring on 61 minutes. Eratt-Thompson attacked out of defence and found Cursons unmarked on the left hand side of the area. Belford parried the first shot but couldn’t do anything to stop Cursons’ follow up.

The clock ticked past the six hour mark since Rangers had last scored a goal and the wait was to continue. Nathan Blissett came on for A-Jay Leitch-Smith and almost scored a spectacular equaliser with an attempted over-head kick but he failed to get a clean contact with the ball. Soon after Stewart had a header blocked and Lee’s follow up was deflected wide by Cox.

With 11 minutes remaining, the visitors made sure of the points when Cursons found space to score his second of the afternoon.

Jamie Walker failed with a couple of chances to add to his side’s tally while Njaria missed Stafford’s best opportunity for a consolation when he headed wide – he should have done better.


Stafford: 1 Cam Belford, 2 Andy Burns, 3 Zak Kempster-Down, 4 Joe Willis, 5 Ethan Stewart, 6 Isaac Lee, 7 Tyreece Onyeka, 8 A-Jay Leitch-Smith (16 Nathan Blissett 70m), 9 Kaiman Anderson, 10 Sean Cooke (17 Simon Njaria 70m), 11 Connor Heath (15 Ben Woods 79m). Unused Subs: 12 Niah Payne 14 Kingston Fligg

Ilkeston: 1 Matt Yates, 2 James Perch, 3 Sam Parker, 4 Dec Eratt-Thompson, 5 Tom Marshall, 6 Luke Cox, 7 L’Varn Brandy (12 Larell King 89m), 8 Callum Minkley, 9 Alex Marshall (14 Liam Loughlin 64m), 10 Jamie Walker, 11 Tom Cursons. Unused Subs: 13 Mitchell Leivers, 15 Kody Eratt-Thompson, 16 Ben Hutchinson

Referee: Lewis Smith

Cautions: Burns (Stafford) Parker, Eratt-Thompson (Ilkeston)

Att: 645

Report by Chris Elsley



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

Stafford Rangers

1Cameron Belford
2Andrew Burns 69'
3Zak Kempster-Down
4Joe Willis
5Ethan Stewart
6Isaac Lee
7Tyreece Onyeka
8A-Jay Leitch-Smith 16
9Kaiman Anderson
10Sean Cooke 17
11Connor Heath 15
12Niah Payne
14Kingston Fligg
15Ben Woods 11
16Nathan Blissett 8
17Simon Njaria 10

Ilkeston Town

1Matt Yates
2James Perch
3Sam Parker 45'
4Declan Eratt-Thompson 89'
5Thomas Marshall
6Luke Cox
7L’varn Brandy 12
8Callum Minckley
9Alex Marshall 14
10Jamie Walker
11Tom Cursons 61', 80'
12Larell King 7
13Mitchell Leivers
14Liam Laughlan 9
15Kobe Eratt-Thompson
16Ben Hutchinson
Total Shots
Shots on Target
Yellow Cards
Red Cards

Stafford Rangers KO Ilkeston Town KO 45 61 65 69 71 71 80 80 89 89 FT

Past Meetings

Ilkeston TownStafford Rangers