The PitchingIn Northern Premier League
Tuesday 5 October 2021
Stafford Rangers bounced back from a run of below par performances with a solid display to bring all three points back from Lancaster City.
Goals from Jon Moran and Joe Kenton – either side of half time – both came against the run of play at a time when Lancaster were putting on the pressure and the home side were left to rue a number of missed chances, particularly in the first period.
Matty Hill made one change from the side beaten at Stalybridge on Saturday with Luca Navarro returning to the starting line-up. Josh Endall dropped to the bench with Ben Woods dropping back.
Rangers made a bright start with Jake Charles going close. He did well to turn his man but saw his shot blocked by Andy Teague and wide for a corner. Lancaster then created a series of good chances. Robert Wilson’s corner came off a couple of players before Lewis Fensome got his header in, but Luke Pilling made the save. A couple of minutes later, Moran made a vital intervention to clear from Teague.
Another opportunity was wasted when Niall Cowperthwaite attached Wilson’s free kick but headed over. But Rangers withstood the pressure and stunned the home side on 23 minutes when they took the lead – Jon Moran’s back header beating Matty Alexander following a long throw from Tom Tonks. Woods had to clear from Paul Dawson as Lancaster had a chance to level within a minute and, shortly after, a diving header from Christian Sloan went wide. Lancaster were troubled by Tonks’ throws and another on the half hour gave James O’Neill half a chance but he hooked his volley high over the bar.
The home side probably felt hard done by to be behind at the break, but they only had themselves to blame as they wasted a golden opportunity four minutes before the interval. Moran and O’Neill got caught out allowing Wilson to go clear but Pilling made a crucial block with his feet.
Both sides had chances early in the second half as O’Neill headed wide for Stafford while Rhys Turner threatened to unlock the Boro defence until Tonks stepped in. After a fairly even opening, Lancaster made a couple of substitutions which gave them a fresh impetus although the better chances fell to Rangers, notably when both Kenton and Charles had close range efforts blocked.
Moran picked up a caution when he brought down Turner midway inside the Stafford half as the Lancaster man threatened to go clear. Dawson wasted a good opportunity with a poor free kick which went high over the bar. A Dawson header went wide and more excellent defending from Woods dispossessed Tom Kilifin kept out Lancaster before Pilling parried a shot from Jacob Holland-Wilkinson. But, again, Rangers struck when they needed it most and Kenton stabbed home their second goal of the night on 77 minutes after Navarro’s corner had bounced off a couple of home players. The second goal killed off the Lancaster challenge as they never looked like getting back into the game and Rangers saw out time to record a much-needed victory.
Lancaster City: 1 Matty Alexander, 2 Lewis Fensome, 3 Liam Brockbank, 4 Niall Cowperthwaite, 5 Andy Teague, 6 Glenn Steel, 7 Christian Sloan (16 Tom Kilifin 57m), 8 Simon Wills, 9 Rhys Turner, 10 Paul Dawson, 11 Robert Wilson (17 Jacob Holland-Wilkinson 57m). Unused Subs 12 Sam Bailey, 14 Ben Hudson, 15 Ben Anderson
Stafford Rangers: 13 Luke Pilling, 2 Andrew Burns, 3 Ben Woods, 4 Alex-Ray Harvey, 5 Jon Moran, 6 James O’Neill, 7 Joe Kenton (15 Tom Carr 90+4m), 8 Tom Tonks, 9 Jake Charles, 10 Alex Fletcher, 11 Luca Navarro (12 Tyrone Ofori 90+1m). Unused Subs: 14 Josh Endall, 16 Ethan Stewart – only four subs named.
Cautions: Brockbank, Cowperthwaite, Wills, Dawson (Lancaster); Pilling, Moran, Belford (Rangers)
Referee: Nathaniel Cox
Report: Chris Elsley