Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Stafford Rangers

Hednesford Town

Dodd (61)

(0) 0

(0) 1



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Sam Oji


Boston Town (A) 2.9.17

The Pitmen claim the local bragging rights this afternoon after a superb display at Marston Road to down local rivals Stafford Rangers. It was by far the club's best performance of the season so far, as Neil Tooth's men created a host of good chances against a Stafford side that had started the season well

Following Saturday's fairly uninspiring draw against Lancaster City, Tooth brought Lewis Wright back into the side in place of Joe Ballinger which meant a return to left back for Alex Melbourne after playing on the opposite flank against Lancaster. James Lawrie was also brought back into the side at the expense of Jordan Nadat, who had offered little against the Dolly Blues before being hauled off. Midfielder Stephen Palmer made his first appearance of the season amongst the substitutes after being called up to replace Ballinger

Stafford's good start to the season - two wins in the first week - had been checked by a 4-1 reverse at home to Buxton last weekend, with Rangers manager Neil Kitching naming ex-Pitmen Louis Briscoe and Richard Batchelor in his starting XI for the big derby. The much-maligned Kyle Perry was amongst the Rangers substitutes to complete the ex-Keys Park set of familiar faces

It was a glorious sunny Bank Holiday afternoon in Staffordshire, with both sides well backed on the terraces as the gate once again topped 1,000 plus for what has recently become more of an annual derby after so many decades without the game in the latter years of the least century

Ex-Hednesford midfield man Batchelor had the first chance of a lively opening spell from the hosts as his sixth minute header was well saved by James Wren, who turned the midfielder's header over the crossbar for a corner

The Pitmen responded through Luke Rodgers in the eighth minute, turning giant centre-back Mat Bailey well and firing over the crossbar from fifteen yards out with a rising shot

Kris Taylor's lofted free kick in the ninth minute was begging to be turned home by an onrushing any onrushing player in grey, but somehow the ball flashed across the face of the Stafford goal without a touch on it

Slowly, the away side were getting themselves on top of play as the good chances kept falling their way towards Rodgers. On fourteen minutes, Rangers keeper Adam Whitehouse made a good save to deny the veteran striker low down to his left, tipping the former Shrewsbury man's shot around the post

At the other end, winger Izak Reid had Stafford's clearest opening of the half on fifteen minutes as he picked up Briscoe's ball but screwing his shot horribly wide of goal from sixteen yards out

Neat build-up play from the Pitmen in the twenty-fifth minute saw skipper Tom Thorley play Devarn Green through on goal, but the youngster drove his effort wildly over the crossbar from a good position

A good block from the impressive Kieran Morris denied Taylor a goal against his former club three minutes later, throwing himself in front of Taylor's shot after a neat lay-off by the canny Rodgers

A Town free kick from Taylor on the half hour almost found a way through as the impressive Sam Oji headed the ball goalwards, but was denied through a combination of bodies and the gloves of Whitehouse as Rangers cleared their lines

Thorley - not exactly renowned for his goalmouth prowess - missed a glorious chance to give the Pitmen the lead against his former club on thirty three minutes, but somehow managed to head Taylor's deep free kick wide of goal from close range

A superb deep ball into the box from Thorley a few minutes before half time should have been tapped home by one of a number of Hednesford players, but somehow flashed straight across the face of goal and out of play

The second half was a similarly cagey affair, with the Pitmen once again creating half chances but lacking the conviction to finish them. A great chance fell to Green on fifty minutes, but Whitehouse was equal to the former Blackburn player's weak effort

A rare foray into the Stafford half by Melbourne saw the former Rangers man strike a low shot from range on fifty-five minutes that was well held by Whitehouse

The two sides traded shots between them as Batchelor tested Wren and Lawrie forced Whitehouse into a save, before the Pitmen took a deserved lead just before the hour mark; a neat piece of attacking play saw the Pitmen work the ball well up to the penalty area, with Thorley playing an inch-perfect ball in behind the Stafford defence. Matt Dodd seized upon the uncertainty at the back to walk the ball around Whitehouse and slot home to send the 300+ Hednesford supporters wild

Perry was brought on by Rangers to test the Hednesford defence, with the Pitmen bringing on Danny Glover in place of Rodgers to add more physicality to their forward line with twenty minutes of a competitive local derby remaining

With Perry offering an extra threat for Rangers and the introduction of the giant Exodus Geohaghon, Tooth took the opportunity to bring a third centre back onto the pitch with six minutes remaining, replacing Green with Ben Bailey

Perry certainly had an impact after coming on, but only succeeded in committing a handful of fouls and earning a talking-to from the referee for one aggressive challenge too many. Indeed, with league rivals Barwell putting in a seven day notice for him, it was likely that it was to be Perry's final game for the club

The final minutes saw the Pitmen come under severe pressure in the air, but Rangers failed to effectively test Wren as the three-man defence stood strong against the bombardment. The final whistle was greeted by a mixture of joy and relief from players, supporters and the management team of Hednesford, who recorded their first away win of the season where they most wanted it. The Pitmen take a break from league action at the weekend when they make the trip to Lincolnshire to face Boston Town in the first qualifying round of the F.A. Cup

Stafford Rangers: Whitehouse, Davis (Geohaghon 82), Brown, Morris, Bailey © , L. Reid , I. Reid, Briscoe (Langston 70), Westwood , Fortnam-Tomlinson (Perry 65), Batchelor   Subs Unused: Sherratt, Caswell

Hednesford Town: Wren, Wright, Melbourne, Taylor , Mutton, Oji, Dodd, Thorley ©, Lawrie, Rodgers (Glover 70), Green (Bailey 84)   Subs Unused: Nadat, Palmer, Veiga