Match Report
Witton Albion 2 – 2 Stafford Rangers
BetVictor Northern Premier League | Saturday 1 February 2020 Report: Chris Elsley
Attendance | 338
Stafford Rangers picked up another point on their quest to avoid relegation at a gusty Witton Albion. Rangers fielded Brandon Diau up front after his arrival on loan from Kidderminster Harriers and the 6’ 6” striker repaid the confidence in him with a goal and a fine all-round display that troubled the home defence. Another welcome name on the team sheet was that of Tom Thorley and the midfielder tasted his first action since August when he came on as a second half substitute. The wind slightly favoured the home side in the first half, and they went close through Tom Owens inside 5 minutes, but the midfielder turned the ball wide of the near post following James Short’s long throw. James Foley fired low at Jono Brown and Adam Ansom went wide from distance before Billy Smart put Witton ahead on a quarter of an hour after being put through by Josh Wardle's header. The Rangers management questioned whether there had been an offside in the build-up.
It was just the start of a catalogue of questionable decisions from the referee who left both sides bemoaning his performance. Inconsistent at best. Witton had a chance to extend their lead after Paul Bignot allowed a long clearance from Chris Just before the half hour, Stafford were aggrieved when they were denied a penalty after Wardle bundled Brad Grayson to the ground. The striker was clean through and Wardle would surely have seen red had the penalty been given. The reason given for the rejection was that Grayson was not in control of the ball! Soon after, Grayson managed to skip past a couple of Witton defenders as he cut in from the right but fired wide of the keepers’ right-hand post. But Stafford did level matters on 38 mins when debutant Diau stretched out a leg to steer Alex Harvey's centre past Renshaw. Early in the second half, a through ball from Harvey gave Joe Cuff the chance to put Stafford ahead but Renshaw came out to make the initial block then managed a second save after the ball came back to Cuff. Harvey, Grayson and Diau combined well to create another opening on 53 mins but Diau headed over from close range. But, just a minute later, Witton were back in front as a poor header out of defence only got as far as Smart on the edge of the area and he struck a low half volley into the corner. Stafford responded well and were back level on 67 mins when Jon Moran hooked home from Dan Burns' header following Josh Green’s corner. Diau could have won it in the last ten but headed a foot wide from Jake Charles' cross while Witton’s final chance saw Isaac Baldwin send a free kick high over.
Witton Albion: 1 Chris Renshaw, 2 Isaac Baldwin, 3 James Short, 4 Josh Wardle, 5 Adam Anson, 6 Billy Smart, 7 Cesaire Lingouba (16 Danny McKenna 71m), 8 Tom Owens, 9 Will Jones, 10 Danny Mitchley (15 Kyle Sambor 71m), 11 James Foley (12 Michael Monaghan 83m). Unused Subs: 14 Nick Ryan, 17 Ryan Neild
Stafford Rangers: 1 Jono Brown, 2 Paul Bignot, 3 Josh Green, 4 Jon Moran, 5 Dan Burns, 6 Alex-Ray Harvey (17 Dan Hawkins 87m), 7 Joe Cuff, 8 Sam Coulson, 9 Brandon Diau, 10 Bradley Grayson (12 Tom Thorley 83m), 11 Jack Sherratt (15 Jake Charles 66m). Unused Subs: 14 Josh Burns, 16 Jazz Luckie

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