Pitching In Northern Premier League
Saturday 6 November 2021
It was another frustrating afternoon at Marston Road as Stafford Rangers managed to lose a game that they should have had wrapped up by half time. Rangers dominated first half proceedings, but a number of missed chances meant that they took just a single goal lead into the interval, and they paid the price.
On the front foot from the off, Rangers won a number of free kicks and corners in the opening 10 minutes but a toe poked effort from Jon O’Neill – which went wide of the target – was their only shot on goal. Reward eventually came in the 13th minute via Jake Charles who snapped up the loose ball after O’Neill’s initial shot had been blocked.
Tom Tonks should had doubled the lead four minutes later after some excellent work from Theo Bailey-Jones, but he shot wide with the goal at his mercy. Bailey-Jones went closer himself with a header against the cross bar from a long Tonks throw. Seconds later, Charles put the ball in the net again but was ruled offside.
Bamber Bridge produced their first threat on the Stafford goal midway through the half as Luke Pilling spilled a shot from Robert Apter and Ethan Stewart was required to clear the danger.
A minute later, Ewan Bange headed over from a corner as the visitors began to get into the game. An excellent last-ditch tackle from Ben Woods denied Apter then Stewart made another important intervention after a misplaced header from Joe Kenton set up Sheldon Green.
Luke Pilling tipped over from Bange as Brig began to show the form that has taken them to third in the table and the Rangers’ keeper saved again on the stroke of half time as he denied Green. Rangers had a strong penalty appeal waved away early in the second half when Andy Burns went to ground under the challenge of Green, but it was the visitors who were creating the better chances.
Pilling made a super save to deny Apter then Burns threw himself in front of Bange’s follow up. The seemingly inevitable equaliser came on 65 minutes, but it wasn’t without controversy as Bamber Bridge were awarded a free kick despite an initial hand ball from Nathan Pond. Apter struck home a superb effort from twenty-five yards, via the underside of the cross bar.
With their tails up, Brig went looking for the win. Pond headed straight at Pilling when well-placed then Woods made another brilliant block to deny the experienced Pond. The visitors struck the killer blow ten minutes from time when a slip from Woods let in Apter and although Burns made the block on the line, Green followed up to score. Rangers had one late chance to salvage something from the afternoon, but O’Neill headed over and his side were left to look back on those missed opportunities in the first half.
Stafford Rangers: 13 Luke Pilling, 2 Andrew Burns, 3 Ben Woods, 4 Alex-Ray Harvey, 5 Ethan Stewart, 6 James O’Neill, 7 Joe Kenton, 8 Tom Tonks, 9 Jake Charles (14 Max McCarthy 61m), 10 Alex Fletcher (12 Omotolani Omotola 86m), 11 Theo Bailey-Jones. Unused Subs: 15 Michael Lennon, 16 Louis Malandjou, 17 Tom Carr
Bamber Bridge: 1 Mateusz Hewelt, 2 Matthew Thomson, 3 Lewis Coulton, 4 Callum Spooner, 5 Nathan Pond, 6 Akiel Raffie (15 Christopher Churchman 65m), 7 Robert Apter, 8 Danny Forbes (14 Joe Rodwell-Grant 46m), 9 Ewan Bange (12 Matthew Dudley 65m), 10 Craig Carney, 11 Sheldon Green. Unused Subs 16 Cameron Gourlay, 17 Isaac Sinclair
Cautions: Thomson, Raffie (Bamber Bridge)
Referee: Liam Corbett
Report: Chris Elsley