(Stafford win 5-3 on penalties)
Staffs Senior Cup 3rd Round | Tuesday 5 February 2019
Stafford Rangers survived a scare from West Midlands Premier League side Wolverhampton Casuals to book a place in the semi-finals of the Staffordshire Senior Cup. Holders Stafford made a number of changes to their regular starting XI with surprise returns for Louis Briscoe and Andrai Jones after lengthy injuries and the home side made a storming start by racing in to a two-goal lead. The opener came with just over a minute played. Briscoe’s long-range free kick was spilled by Casuals’ keeper Paul Evans and defender Ben Podmore’s attempt to clear saw the ball rebound into the net off Ben Mills. Briscoe went wide from distance shortly before Joe Cuff made it 2-0, cutting in from the left, past two players and firing home from around 20 yards out.
Wolves’ first effort on goal came via Kieron Whittaker whose scuffed centre was heading inside the near post, forcing Adam Siviter to parry before the danger was cleared. Cuff should have added a third for Stafford when Joshua Jones failed to cut out a long ball from Briscoe, but Rangers’ leading scorer blazed over when clean through. Casuals reduced the arrears on 24 minutes when Reece Mason’s deep centre put Luke Yates in, and the highly rated forward made no mistake.
Kieron Miller went just wide from 25 yards out soon after as the visitors sensed a comeback and they drew level on the stroke of half time when Izak Reid failed to cut out a long ball and Yates was free to level. Stafford started brightly after the interval, but it was Casuals who had the best chance when Adam Siviter was forced to race out of his area to clear from Miller. But, before play could resume, Rangers were rocked when referee Brandon Scaife dismissed skipper Josh Craddock for two yellow cards in a matter of seconds. The first appeared to be for a foul in the build up to the Wolves’ attack the second looked to be an act of dissent in response to the issuing of the first.
Wolves were now in control, playing the better football as Rangers tired. It was a moment of class from Miller that put visitors ahead on 70 minutes as the forward’s persistence saw him retain the ball despite slipping on the edge of the area then he turned into space before curling his shot over Siviter. With their last hope of silverware slipping away, Rangers pressed forward in the closing stages and Jack Sherratt struck home the equaliser two minutes into added time after Kyle Brady’s slip had let in Theo Bailey-Jones. The game went straight to penalties and Rangers took an early advantage when Siviter saved from Joshua Jones after Andy Haworth had netted Rangers’ first spot kick.
Sam Coulson, Jake Charles, Briscoe and Sherratt were all successful to put Rangers through 5-3 on penalties.
Stafford: 1 Adam Siviter, 2 Izak Reid (15 Theo Bailey-Jones 70m), 3 Louis Briscoe, 4 Sam Coulson, 5 Dan Burns (14 Jake Charles 53m), 6 Jack Sherratt, 7 Andy Haworth, 8 Josh Craddock, 9 Ben Mills (17 Declan Arber 76m), 10 Andrai Jones, 11 Joe Cuff. Unused Subs 12: Max Dixon, 16 Lucas Burnett
Wolverhampton Casuals: 1 Paul Evans, 2 Jordan Uppal, 3 Reece Mason, 4 Scott Powell (18 Kyle Brady 63m), 5 Ben Podmore, 6 Alex Foreshaw, 7 Kieron Whittaker (16 Todd Ferrier 63m), 8 Joseph Daley, 9 Kieron Miller (15 Kane Cork 79m), 10 Joshua Jones, 11 Luke Yates. Unused Subs 12 Walid Abdelali, 14 Dan Turton
Cautions: Jones (Rangers), Foreshaw (Wolves Casuals)
Sent Off: Craddock – 2 cautions (Rangers)
Referee: Brandon Scaife
Report: Chris Elsley