Evo-Stik Northern Premier League
Wednesday 26 December 2018
Stafford Rangers’ frustration’s continued with defeat at home to league leaders Nantwich Town. Rangers’ manager Steve Burr kept faith with the starting XI that lost at Matlock Town four days earlier, with new signings Peter Williams and keeper Adam Siviter taking their places on the bench. The first half hour produced few clear-cut chances. Rangers were playing the better football of the two sides, but it was the visitors Nantwich who were asking most of the questions from the respective keepers.
Joe Malkin headed just over inside 2 mins and had the ball in the back of the net again soon after, but Sean Cooke was flagged offside.
Stafford’s first look in came via a first time shot on the turn from Jack Sherratt following a Josh Green throw. Sykes-Kenworthy had to go low to his right to keep out Louis Barnes’ free kick after Luke Jones had fouled Cooke and it was the latter who fired Nantwich ahead on 32 mins with a shot from 20 yards out beat Sykes-Kenworthy’s despairing dive although Joe Mwasile had been allowed to get away with a foul on Andy Haworth in the build-up.
James Lawrie missed a good chance to increase the lead shooting high and wide when well placed. Rangers made him pay with a 39th minute equaliser courtesy of an own goal from Joel Stair whose attempt to intercept Jake Charles’s low centre only succeeded in diverting the ball past his own keeper. Right on the stroke of half time, Nantwich had another half chance but Sykes-Kenworthy held onto Cooke’s shot and the two sides went in all square after an evenly fought opening 45 mins.
The first opportunity of the second half fell to Rangers as Charles went clear after Jamie Morgan failed to cut out Sykes-Kenworthy’s long clearance but he put his shot wide of the far post. Joe Cuff also missed out soon after when Will Jaaskelainen saved with his feet. But where Rangers failed Nantwich didn’t and when Sykes-Kenworthy could only parry a long-range effort from Cooke, Malkin was first on scene to snap up the rebound to put the visitors back in front on 55 mins.
A goal line clearance from Morgan prevented Rangers from getting back on level terms soon after then sub Izak Reid messed up at the back post from Cuff’s ball across the face of the Nantwich goal. The home side were given another lesson in finishing as Malkin put Nantwich 3-1 ahead on 72 mins with a simple header from Mwasile’s cross to end a good move involving four players. Any hopes of a Rangers’ come back were well and truly put to bed with 10 minutes remaining when Tobias Mullarkey headed in Cooke’s corner at the back post.
Stafford: 1 George Sykes-Kenworthy, 2 Sam Coulson (14 Lewis Banks 60m), 3 Josh Green, 4 Luke Jones, 5 Dan Burns, 6 Jack Sherratt (15 Peter Williams 65m), 7 Theo Bailey-Jones (16 Izak Reid 60m), 8 Tom Thorley, 9 Jake Charles, 10 Andy Haworth, 11 Joe Cuff. Unused Subs: 12 James Askey, 17 Adam Siviter
Nantwich: 1 William Jaaskelainen, 2 Jamie Morgan, 3 Louis Barnes, 4 Joel Stair, 5 Tobias Mullarkey, 6 Matthew Bell, 7 Joe Mwasile (16 Callum Saunders 81m), 8 Casper Hughes (15 Danny Glover 89m), 9 Joe Malkin, 10 Sean Cooke (14 Nathan Cotterell 90+2m), 11 James Lawrie. Unused Subs: 12 Troy Bourne, 17 Declan O’Riordan
Cautions: Cuff & Williams (Rangers); Cooke (Nantwich)
Referee: Steve Durnall
Report by Chris Elsley