Evo-Stik Northern Premier League | Saturday 2 March 2019
Stafford Rangers and Marine played out a drab goal-less draw that will do little to help Stafford’s fight against relegation. With a tough month ahead – Rangers face leaders Warrington Town twice and also have to travel to second placed Farsley Celtic – the visit of Marine was one which the Boro would have hoped to pick up maximum points but that they rarely threatened to breach the visitors’ goal. In fairness a strong wind and bumpy pitch didn’t help and Marine also lacked potency in their forward line although they did produce the only decent effort of the entire 90 minutes with Craig Carney’s well struck drive early in the second half which was well saved by Adam Siviter.
Rangers brought in Paul Bignot at right back in place of Sim Thandi whose loan period has expired while Andy Haworth and Andrai Jones came in for Joe Cuff and Peter Williams. The game as a spectacle just never got going. Despite having the wind in their faces, it was Marine who produced the first two efforts on target. Both of them came from their captain Danny Mitchley but neither gave Adam Siviter anything to worry about.
Rangers persisted in a hitting target man Jake Charles but too frequently the wind took the ball beyond the hard-working striker. Finally, in the 26th minute, they got an effort on target, but Luke Jones’ header was easily gathered by Joe Hilton. At the other end, another effort from Mitchley looped up off Stafford defender Danny Burns and just wide of the far upright then Chris Doyle headed wide.
Stafford’s best play of the half saw Andy Haworth’s diagonal centre glanced wide off the head of Charles. The game needed to find something special to give it a kick start and it almost came around 10 minutes after the interval from Carney’s terrific 25-yard drive but Siviter was alert to it, diving to his left to push the ball out towards the corner flag. But, sadly for the 683 fans – the second biggest gate of the season – chances remained at a premium and the second half had reached the midway point before Charley Edge went wide for the visitors with a volley.
Both sides made changes. Cuff replaced Jack Sherratt for Rangers, but it was Marine sub who was first in the action when James Murray fired goal wards but Siviter claimed the ball off the head of Mitchley. The Merseysiders just about remained the most likely scorers but Murray wasted a great chance on a Marine counter with a poor touch inside the Stafford area which allowed Bignot in to clear the danger. Soon after, Sam Barnes fired over from the angle. Stafford did look a little more threatening in the final stages after the introduction of Louis Briscoe, but Tom Thorley blazed over after the former’s square ball then Briscoe drilled a 40-yard free kick just wide. Rangers will look at the positives of a clean sheet and that all three teams below them in the table lost but with 5 draws recorded in their last 7 league games, they may be needing to turn a few more into wins to ease their fears of the drop.
Stafford Rangers: 1 Adam Siviter, 2 Paul Bignot, 3 Matt Hill, 4 Luke Jones, 5 Dan Burns, 6 Jack Sherratt (12 Joe Cuff 65m), 7 Theo Bailey-Jones (16 Ben Mills 90+2m), 8 Tom Thorley, 9 Jake Charles, 10 Andrai Jones, 11 Andy Haworth (15 Louis Briscoe 77m). Unused Subs: 14 Sam Coulson, 17 Peter Williams
Marine: 1 Joe Hilton, 2 Sam Barnes, 3 James Short, 4 Danny Shaw, 5 Chris Doyle, 6 Kenny Strickland, 7 Sam Tattum (15 James Murray 67m), 8 Liam Hynes, 9 Danny Mitchley (14 John Marsden 79m), 10 Charley Edge, 11 Craig Carney. Unused Subs 12 William Dunne, 13 Germano Mendes (gk) – only four subs named
Cautions: A Jones (Stafford), Barnes, Doyle & Tattum (Marine)Referee: Jonathan Maskrey
Report by Chris Elsley