Northern Premier League
Saturday 17 October 2020
Stafford Rangers are still looking for their first league win of the season after going down in a largely disappointing display away to FC United on Saturday. Rangers were unable to follow up on the performance that saw them beat Hereford in the FA Cup four days earlier and for much of the game they were on the defensive as the home side did most of the pressing.
A slip inside the first minute for Michael Williams set the tone for the afternoon. The defender picking up a caution for a foul on Regan Linney after the FC wide man looked set to take advantage. The free kick went harmlessly through to Lewis King but United were on the hunt for an early breakthrough, but Dan Cockerline was unable to get any direction on his header while Aaron Morris fired wide from 20 yards.
Williams made an excellent tackle to halt a threatening run from Linney but, seconds later, Fin Sinclair-Smith broke clear only for King to come out quickly and make the block. Paul Ennis struck a free kick into the Stafford wall and saw the deflected follow up bounce up and just over.
After a quick team talk while Williams was receiving treatment for injury, Rangers created their first real opening with Mo Sebbeh-Njie’s shot going out for a corner off Michael Potts. And it was the Boro who took the lead on 27 minutes when Joe Kenton found space on the right and delivered a low centre which Sebbeh-Njie converted at the near post.
But the visitors failed to build on the lead and Williams was forced into a vital tackle to halt Linney before King pulled off a stunning save to deny Michael Donohue when his header looked a goal all the way. King punched away another header – a looping effort from Curtis Jones – before keeping out a 35th minute penalty from Ennis, controversially awarded against John Welsh for a trip on the latter.
But luck finally turned against Rangers and the home side levelled on 40 minutes when Fin Sinclair-Smith’s cross deflected up and the 6’ 4” Dan Cockerline got in before King to send a back header in to the net. The home side then produced a couple of chances to give themselves an interval lead, but it was all square at the turn around.
FC United still held the upper hand in the second half as Williams blocked Linney and Cockerline poked over from 6 yards as he stretched to meet Adam Dodd’s centre. Cockerline was in again from Aaron Morris’s ball through the defence but this time it was Joe Kenton who made the vital intervention before Michael Fowler hit the side netting.
The warning signs were clear, but Rangers didn’t see them, and Fowler was left unchallenged on 71 minutes to head FC United in front from Dodd’s left-wing cross. The home side were content with their lead while Rangers never threatened to get back on level terms and there were few chances to add to the score in the final 20 minutes.
FC United: 1 Dan Lavercombe, 2 Aaron Morris, 3 Adam Dodd, 4 Michael Donohue, 5 Chris Doyle, 6 Curtis Jones, 7 Fin Sinclair Smith (12 Morgan Homson-Smith 81m), 8 Michael Potts, 9 Dan Cockerline, 10 Paul Ennis (14 Michael Fowler 59m), 11 Regan Linney (15 Morgan Penfold 81m). Unused Subs: 16 Joseph White, 17 Kain Dean
Stafford Rangers: 1 Lewis King, 2 Michael Williams, 3 Cieron Keane, 4 John Welsh, 5 Sam Coulson, 6 Mo Sebbah-Njie, 7 Joe Kenton, 8 Alex-Ray Harvey, 9 Jamie Sleigh (14 Fis Adarabioyo 66m), 10 Callum Coyle (12 Reece Jones 59m), 11 Joe Cuff. Unused Subs 15 Ben Forrest, 16 Matt Hill – only four subs named
Ref: Jamie O’Connor
Cautions: Donohue, Potts, Linney, Fowler (FC United); King, Williams, Keane (Rangers)
Goals: FC United: Cockerline 40, Fowler 71; Rangers: Sebbeh-Njie 27
Report by Chris Elsley