26.12.2003

Dr. Martens Southern Premier League

Stafford Rangers

Davidson (38) (penalty)

Cambridge City

Danks (26)

(1) 1

(1) 1

 

Attendance

MotM

Current Form

Next Match

1,974

Lee Barrow

W W W L L D W L D D

 

Moor Green (H) 1.1.04

This afternoon's big Boxing Day local derby saw both clubs come away with a point that does little to help their play-off ambitions on a quagmire of a pitch at Marston Road in front of nearly 2,000 people

Last weekend had seen the Pitmen's home game with Havant & Waterlooville called off due to a waterlogged pitch which had given manager Barry Powell time to make changes to his inconsistent squad. Michael Swann had departed after struggling to nail down a first team spot whilst three players had arrived to bolster the ranks. Left-sided defender/midfielder Craig Dean had arrived from Gresley Rovers, whilst there were returns to the club for midfielder Scott Goodwin from Kettering Town and defender Lee Barrow from today's opponents. All three players came straight into the side for today's game as Powell dropped Steve Evans and Chris Gray from the XI that had started their last game against Cambridge City, whilst skipper Steve Palmer was missing due to serving a one-match suspension for picking up five yellow cards this term. Danny McGhee was the fourth change to the side as he came in to replace Alex Gibson in a move that saw another former Stafford man, Darren Simkin, moved to right-back as cover

Rangers had also seen their game at Newport County called off last weekend due to the wet weather, leaving Phil Robinson's side sitting in fourth place in the table ahead of this afternoon's game on thirty-three points. A 4-1 win at Eastbourne Borough last time out had followed a surprise defeat at Cambridge City, which had been their first defeat in the league in five games. Robinson named an unchanged side for today's game as he looked to go second in the table with a win and other results going in their favour

Backed by a large away following, the Pitmen made a fine start to the game as they looked to get the better of the dreadful underfoot conditions, using the flanks to good effect through McGhee and Les Hines. It was McGhee who had the best chance of the opening exchanges as he was played through on goal by Goodwin down the right, only to get caught in two minds as to what to do in the penalty area and attempt a return ball to Goodwin rather than shoot which allowed Richard Beale to clear

There was plenty of zip to the Pitmen's early play, with Danks nipping past Wayne Daniel after another bright and breezy spell of passing through midfield from the men in sky blue, only to drag his shot well wide from an angle

Former Stafford man Chris Brindley hosted in at the far post to meet a Hines corner kick on thirteen minutes but only headed comfortably into the arms of old foe Ryan Price in the Stafford goal

A long punt forward from Barrow four minutes later was missed by Gavin Caines as he was hustled off the ball by Steve Anthrobus, who controlled the ball and spayed the ball wide to McGhee. The former Rushall man jinked his way past Beale and sent over a deep cross to the far post that was side footed wide of goal by Danks

Stafford's only chance of a disappointing first quarter from the hosts saw Robin Gibson drift past Simkin down the left wing on twenty minutes and send over a cross into the six-yard box that Ryan Young claimed at the second attempt under pressure from the league's top scorer Danny Davidson 

The Pitmen's good start to the game saw them rewarded with the opening goal of the game in the twenty-sixth minute; a cross from Hines down the left was acrobatically turned towards goal by Anthrobus, whose scissor kick from the edge of the Stafford penalty area was tipped onto the underside of the crossbar by Price. Danks was first to react to the loose ball and followed in to turn it home from a matter inches out to give the Pitmen the lead

Craig Wilding was wasteful with an effort for Rangers on the half-hour mark, lifting his shot over the crossbar and out of the ground as he got his laces underneath a Gibson cross to wildly slash his effort over the social club behind the goal

Despite being in control of proceedings, the Pitmen handed Stafford a route back into the game on thirty-four minutes, although the returning Barrow will feel aggrieved at a decision to penalise him as he and midfielder Rob Heath came together inside the penalty area which culminated in Heath taking a tumble. The referee Mr. Langford took a long, hard look at the coming-together and awarded Stafford a penalty kick, despite Barrow's vehement protests that the former Stoke City youngster had gone down under his own steam. The referee was not to be turned, however and allowed Davidson to spot the ball, which he fired past Young to score his fifteenth goal of the season and level matters once more

Stafford had the wind in their sails and went close to taking a surprise lead on forty minutes as player/manager Robinson exchanged passes with Lee Downes before slipping the ball through Davidson, whose first touch was a little too heavy and took him away from goal, thus narrowing the angle and seeing him shoot wide under pressure from Simkin

In the final minute of a keenly-contested first period, Hines drove a low cross into the Stafford penalty area that zipped across the wet turf and just wide of Price's far post, with no-one in blue able to react quickly enough to turn the cross home from close range

It was all to play for in the second half with Stafford levelling matters at a key time in the game to deny the Pitmen the advantage at the break. However, a deluge of rain at the half-time break completely saturated the Marston Road turf to such an extent that Mr. Langford took a long, hard look at the surface before being satisfied that the second half should begin

The conditions became tricky for both sides as the half progressed, with many players falling over having emerged with the wrong studs on for such a wet pitch. One brief piece of play from the Pitmen on fifty-three minutes saw Danks scamper after a long ball forwards from Simkin and rescue it in the right hand corner of the pitch. He cleverly jinked his way past Beale and took the ball along the goal line before pulling the ball back into the path of Anthrobus, only for the ball to hold up in the quagmire of the goalmouth and allow Craig Lovatt to clear the danger

A long throw from Downes found Davidson in space just outside the Hednesford penalty area on the hour mark, with the big target man doing well to turn past former team-mate Barrow and get his shot away, but the ball bounced through to Young after Davidson failed to get enough purchase on the shot

The Pitmen made their first change of the afternoon as Simkin - struggling with the conditions and the pace of Robin Gibson down the flank - was taken off and replaced by another former Stafford player in the form of Ashley Dodd

The Pitmen looked more sprightly going forwards down the right as a result, with Dodd offering himself at every opportunity to support McGhee on the overlap down the one side of the pitch where there was plenty of grass. A drifting cross from the substitute almost caught Price out on sixty-seven minutes as he crossed from fully thirty yards out but saw his ball drift narrowly over the crossbar and onto the roof of Price's net

Former Wolves man Don Goodman came on for Rangers on sixty-nine minutes in place of player/manager Robinson as the hosts looked to add more firepower to their shot-shy attack

The Pitmen were content to play on the counter-attack as they dealt with Stafford's aerial threat with relative ease as former Rangers defensive partners Brindley and Barrow relishing their battles with Davidson and Wilding before punting the ball forwards to the midfield at every opportunity

Danks had run himself into the ground for the visitors and was afforded generous applause from the 700+ Hednesford fans as he was taken off in favour of Nathan Lamey

Lamey tested the pace of the veteran centre-back Daniel three minutes later as he skipped past the Stafford skipper from Carl Palmer's pass. He was forced wide by Craig McAughtrie, who also managed to force Lamey into a rushed shot that drifted over the crossbar and well wide of goal

Former team-mates Dodd and Robin Gibson squared up to each other in the first real flashpoint of a normally fiery derby as Gibson took exception to Dodd pulling his shirt as he looked to skip past the full-back. The main stand demanded retribution for Dodd's actions, but only a talking-to from the referee was deemed sufficient for Dodd's actions

With fourteen minutes remaining, the visitors made their final change of the afternoon as Damien Charie replaced McGhee down the wing to add his youthful enthusiasm to the team

Two minutes later, Rangers had their best chance of the second half to take all three points from the Chase derby as Gibson's out-swinging cross from the right found Wilding, whose scissor kick was brilliantly saved by Young as he pushed the goalbound effort around the post

Conditions continued to deteriorate as the half came to it's conclusion, with both clubs now playing for set pieces in a bid to force the ball home. Downes volleyed a shot wide form the edge of the Hednesford penalty area after Gibson's corner was partially cleared to him by the Hednesford defence, followed on eighty-six minutes by a quick break from the Pitmen that saw Charie and Carl Palmer link up to set Anthrobus clear on goal, although the ball held up in the mud and ruined the big man's chance of taking a shot at Price's goal

In added time, Gibson sent over yet another good ball from the right that somehow found it's way to Les Hines at the far post as the ball evaded at least ten incoming players to the six-yard box. Hines quickly hacked the ball into touch before either Davidson of Lovatt could dispossess him and turn the ball goalwards

Both sides will have been delighted at the sound of the final whistle and the end of a combative game in dreadful conditions but low on overall quality. This leaves the Pitmen ten points off top of the table Weymouth and three off their local rivals ahead of a New Year's Day visit of Bob Faulkner's struggling Moor Green to Keys Park

Stafford Rangers: Price, McAughtrie, Beale, Caines, Daniel ©, Lovatt, Robinson (Goodman 69), Downes, Davidson, Wilding, Gibson      Subs Unused: Fife, Griffin, Dunn, Smith

Hednesford Town: Young, Simkin © (Dodd 61), Hines, Brindley, Barrow, McGhee (Charie 76), C. Palmer, Goodwin, Dean, Anthrobus, Danks (Lamey 70)    Subs Unused: S. Evans, P. Evans

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