|Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Monday 1 January 2018
Rangers opened up the new year with defeat at local rivals Hednesford in a game that failed to live up to expectations.
As matches go between these two sides, this one lacked the passion and drama needed and it took an over zealous challenge from Boro captain Mat Bailey to ignite any sort of spark into the afternoon’s proceedings.
But that was with a little over five minutes remaining and too late for Rangers to salvage a point.
It took until the 14th minute for either side to produce an effort on target but Bailey’s header was blocked by Joey Butlin.
And, when the home side created their first opening, in the 29th minute, it was Butlin who was there to head Hednesford in front.
The chance came after Mason Walsh had got the better of Kai Davis to cross from the right and the unmarked Butlin had time to pick his spot.
Rangers had a great chance to get back on level terms soon after when Richard Batchelor put Osebi Abadaki in but he lacked conviction and home keeper James Wren did just enough to concede the corner.
Hednesford extended their lead two minutes into added time at the end of the first half. A corner from James Lawrie looked unthreatening, as did Charlie Gatter’s miscued shot but the ball looped over Adam Whitehouse.
Not for the first, second or even third time in Staffordshire derbies, Hednesford fans tarnished their image by throwing flares onto the pitch to celebrate their goals.
Abadaki missed out on another opening for Rangers early in the second half as Wren denied him then the Hednesford keeper tipped away a shot from Massiah McDonald.
Another Abadaki shot flew across the face of the Hednesford goal and with the lack of quality finishing on display it was perhaps fitting that Rangers got back in to the game via an own goal when Callam Mendez-Jones’ attempt to cut out Abadaki’s centre ended in the back of the Hednesford net with 16 minutes remaining.
But though sub Joe Thomas had a shot charged down, Rangers never really threatened to get level.
Instead, Hednesford came the closest to adding to the score when Danny Glover hit the post with a low drive and put another just over the top but his side had done enough to avenge the double that Rangers completed over them last season.
Hednesford: 1 James Wren, 2 Callam Mendez-Jones, 3 Matt Curley, 4 Joe Fitzpatrick (14 Laurence Taylor 89m), 5 Sam Oji, 6 Charlie Gatter, 7 Mason Walsh (15 Reece King 64m), 8 Tom Thorley, 9 Joey Butlin (12 Danny Glover 73m), 10 James Lawrie, 11 James Fitzgibbon. Unused subs 16 Jordan Graham, 17 James Mutton
Rangers: 1 Adam Whitehouse, 2 Sam Griffiths, 3 Kai Davis, 4 Josh Craddock, 5 Mat Bailey, 6 Jordaan Brown, 7 Osebi Abadaki (14 Karl Hawley 90+1m), 8 Jack Sherratt (12 Dan Westwood 57m), 9 Massiah McDonald, 10 Robert Thompson-Brown (15 Joe Thomas 77m), 11 Richard Batchelor. Unused subs: 16 Izak Reid, 17 Levi Reid
Cautions: Thorley (Hednesford), Griffiths, Craddock, Bailey, Bachelor (Rangers)
Ref: R Price