Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Saturday 2 February 2019
Tom Thorley’s stunning free kick rescued a point for Stafford Rangers in their bottom of the table clash against Lancaster City. The encounter at Marston Road was one of the few Northern Premier League fixtures to survive the weather but a bumpy pitch along with the matching of two sides at the wrong end of the table produced a scrappy affair, high in effort but lacking in quality.
Rangers had Luke Jones and Jack Sherratt back after injury while Andy Haworth returned after a two-match ban. Missing was Josh Green who picked up an injury in the midweek cup defeat against Farsley.
Half chances were traded in the opening 10 minutes with the best of them falling to Lancaster’s Brad Carsley who should have done better when Robert Wilson’s corner found him standing unmarked 15 yards out, but the Dolly Blues’ front man scuffed his shot and the danger was eventually cleared.
Carsley was presented with an even better chance when Wilson’s free kick fell to his feet some 10 yards from goal but this time his shot glanced off the top of the bar before going over. Between Carsley’s two opportunities, Haworth and Thorley were off target with long range free kicks for Rangers.
Stafford had two strong penalty appeals – both for hand ball against Glenn Steel – turned down before referee Ryan Williams finally awarded a penalty in the 34th minute. Unfortunately, for Rangers it was in Lancaster’s favour after Williams judged Stafford keeper Adam Siviter to have tripped David Norris. Wilson netted from the spot to give Lancaster the advantage.
The attack came from a Lancaster breakaway after Rangers had wasted a strong position of their own. Paul Dawson’s through ball sent Norris clear but the Rangers’ camp was adamant that there was no contact by Siviter and Norris had dived.
Stafford made a bright start to the second half, triggered by a thunderbolt from Thorley that was well saved by Jack Sims down to his right. Haworth had a shot blocked and Luke Jones saw his follow up saved as Stafford continued their encouraging period of play, but Lancaster sent out another warning when Carsley forced a save from Siviter. Another Haworth free kick went just over for Stafford, but they struggled to create much of a threat and Sims wasn’t being tested.
At the other end, it needed an excellent save from Siviter to prevent Tom Kilifin from wrapping the game up as the game entered the final minute of normal time. But Stafford did not give up the fight and five minutes of added time were almost up when Davies was tripped a couple of yards outside the area. Thorley stepped up to send his free kick in to the far top corner to the delight of the Stafford contingent.
Stafford Rangers:1 Adam Siviter, 2 Sam Coulson (16 Ben Mills 82m), 3 Matt Hill, 4 Luke Jones, 5 Dan Burns, 6 Jack Sherratt (14 Jed Davies 46m), 7 Theo Bailey-Jones, 8 Tom Thorley, 9 Jake Charles, 10 Peter Williams, 11 Andy Haworth (15 Josh Craddock 67m). Unused Subs: 12 Lewis Banks, 17 Izak Reid
Lancaster City: 1 Jack Sims, 2 Robert Henry, 3 Paul Dugdale, 4 Simon Wills, 5 Glenn Steel, 6 Steven Williams, 7 Paul Dawson (15 Charlie Bailey 90+1m), 8 David Norris, 9 Matthew Blinkhorn, 10 Brad Carsley (17 Thomas Kilifin 73m), 11 Robert Wilson (16 Ryan Winder 83m). Unused Subs 12 Lewis Fensome, 14 Luke Jordan
Cautions: Sherratt, Siviter (Rangers), Dawson, Norris (Lancaster)
Referee: Ryan Williams
Report by Chris Elsley