F.A. Trophy 2nd Qualifying Round Replay

Stafford Rangers

Gordon (80), I. Reid (117) (penalty)

Hednesford Town

Dunkley (90)

(0) 2

(0) 1



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Jimmy Mutton


Matlock Town (A) 19.11.16

After Extra Time

A local derby that had it all - goals, a brawl, red cards, extra time drama and a late penalty - finally ended in the favour of Stafford Rangers, who claimed local bragging rights and a place in the net round of the F.A. Trophy as they completed a narrow win over their rivals this evening


It had been another whirlwind seventy-two hours at Keys Park, with Liam McDonald confirming yesterday what many feared since before the weekend, as he left the club to become the new manager of Solihull Moors. The Pitmen had moved quickly the same day, appointing Coleshill Town manager and former Hednesford youth team manager Paul Casey as their new manager. Casey's first Hednesford line-up revealed very little surprises, with Danny Glover returning to the starting line-up in place of Jamie Matthews, who was ill, as the only change to McDonald's final XI from the weekend


Rangers themselves will still have been smarting from conceding a late Simeon Maye equaliser on Saturday, with Neil Kitching making two changes himself - former Hednesford man Sam Griffiths was dropped in place of James Bowen and ex-Pitman Richard Batchelor dropped in favour of Mitchell Tolley

It was a cold night at Marston Road with neither side having much of an appetite for another game being added to their already congested fixture list after Saturday's drab draw. Kyle Perry's wayward long-range effort was the 'highlight' of a poor opening salvo from both sides in the fifth minute as the midfield enjoyed plenty of possession


Stafford keeper Adam Whitehouse almost gifted Casey a dream start to his tenure as Hednesford manager, as the Rangers number one made a hash of an Ashley Sammons cross in the eighth minute as he dropped the ball at the feet of Gurjit Singh, who failed to bundle the ball home under pressure from close range with Kieran Morris clearing the ball away


Former Stafford loanee Glover's powerful run down the flank two minutes later saw the striker drive the ball across the face of goal but failed to find anyone in red on the end of it and the ball went wide of goal


In the seventeenth minute, Stafford went closest to breaking the deadlock as on-loan winger Elliot Hodge crashed a shot off the post and back into play with a long-range effort. Sean Geddes seized upon the rebound but found Dan Crane behind his rebounded shot


Hodge was shown the first yellow card of a busy evening for the match officials on twenty minutes, entering the book for blatantly stopping the Pitmen from breaking quickly by pulling Carline back


A superb late clearance from Mat Bailey denied Jimmy Mutton a certain goal on twenty-four minutes, hacking the Hednesford defender's header off the line after Mutton had risen highest to head towards goal from a Tom Thorley corner


Crane made a competent stop to deny former team-mate, Kris Taylor, from a free-kick on twenty-seven minutes before Bailey headed wide from an excellent position following a Taylor corner kick four minutes later


Glover - still trying to get back to full fitness - was forced off the pitch on thirty-four minutes after one aggressive challenge too many from the Stafford defence as was replaced by another player still looking to get himself fully fit in the form of Tristian Dunkley


The first half came to an explosive finish, with the production of the first red card of the evening on forty-one minutes. Michael Williams and Hodge clashed out on the right-hand side, with Geddes feeling inclined to get involved to voice his displeasure at Williams' part in the piece. This led to a fifteen man brawl and much for the match officials to clear up. Eventually, a second yellow was shown to Hodge for his part, with Williams booked for the original foul


From the resultant free-kick, awarded for the original foul, former Hednesford man Geddes curled the ball over the crossbar with Crane confidently watching the shot out of play

It had been an action-packed first half of the game, although it had once again proved to be of low overall quality as much of Saturday's game had been with neither side able to force the ball home 


The start of the second half saw Rangers defy their numerical disadvantage by having much of the better play in the opening fifteen minutes. The unorthodox Perry continued to give the Hednesford centre-backs much to think about, forcing Calum Flanagan into a last-ditch challenge on fifty-three minutes as he pushed his way past Mutton in the Hednesford penalty area and was denied by the burly defender's sliding tackle


A minute later, the in-demand Josh Gordon wasted another good chance to open the scoring for the hosts by lifting his shot over the crossbar from close range after Geddes had crossed for him


Singh was presented with a glorious chance for the visitors on fifty-five minutes, breaking through the Stafford backline but getting his feet all mixed up as he took too long to decide his next step ad allowed Bailey to recover


 The Pitmen's numerical advantage was wiped out by a ridiculous error of judgement from former Stafford man Williams on sixty-eight minutes, as he was rightly shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Gordon after the striker had done well to get the better of the right-back


Stafford used this to their advantage as they pushed the Pitmen backwards, with Crane making a superb save to deny former team-mate Perry on seventy minutes as well as fielding a dangerous cross from Geddes that searched for Gordon a minute later


In an attempt to cover off the loss of Williams, new man at the helm Casey brought on Lewis Wright in place of the tiring Singh with fourteen minutes remaining to plug the gap at right-back but reduce the Pitmen's attacking threat with the real possibility of extra-time looming


Rangers finally made their growing pressure tell with ten minutes remaining, as a neat passage of play saw Perry and Gordon exchange passes before Gordon curled a shot beyond the reach of Crane to give the hosts a valuable lead


With eight minutes left, skipper Tom Thorley was replaced by the younger, more willing legs of teenager Myles Phipps up front as the Pitmen reverted to two up top once more by sacrificing a midfielder

Phipps was immediately into the game by sending over a deep cross from the left flank that was volleyed over the crossbar by the quiet George Carline with four minutes left 


Despite the clock ticking over the ninety-minute mark, the Pitmen continued to plug away and found the strength to turn up a late, late equaliser to take the game into extra time.  Alert to the ball, Dunkley cleverly flicked the ball past Whitehouse at his near post following a low cross from the in-demand Cohen Bramall to give the Pitmen a valuable leveller


 Extra time saw the Pitmen start much the stronger, buoyed by their late goal in normal time. Wright's long-range effort was narrowly off-target on ninety-three minutes, followed two minutes later by a tricky run from Phipps that ended with the youngster curling a shot over the crossbar


Whitehouse was equal to another clever Dunkley moment on ninety-seven minutes as Bramall's cross was flicked goalwards by the substitute, only for Whitehouse to claim the ball at his near post


Several players made their way into the book in extra time as tiredness set in amongst both sets of players. Rangers were far more energised after the break, with Perry heading over the crossbar immediately after the restart when it looked easier to score from close range from an Izak Reid cross


Stafford's Kieran Morris forced Crane into a smart save from his volley on 108 minutes before Stafford snatched the all-important third goal with only three minutes remaining after a sustained spell of late pressure; substitute Levi Reid danced around Wright and was brought down by a tired-looking challenge from the youngster to concede a late penalty kick. Levi's younger brother Izak stepped up to fire past Crane from the resultant penalty kick despite the best efforts of the Hednesford keeper to score the winner from the spot


There was no time for the visibly shattered Pitmen to respond, with Rangers moving into the next round and a trip to Vanarama National League North Chorley as the reward. The shattered Pitmen will be looking to get back on track as they travel to in-form Matlock Town on Saturday, by which time it is likely that Casey will have made moves in the transfer market to strengthen his threadbare squad. Expect several comings and goings in the next few weeks as the squad evolves under Casey's stewardship


Stafford Rangers: Whitehouse, Morris, Bowen, Townsend ©, Bailey, Taylor, Hodge ▆ (41), Tolley, Perry, Geddes (L. Reid 70), Gordon (I. Reid 90)       Subs Unused: Batchelor, Griffiths, Lee

Hednesford Town: Crane, Williams ▆ ▆ (68), Bramall, Maye , Mutton, Flanagan , Singh (Wright 76), Thorley © (Phipps 82), Glover (Dunkley 34), Sammons, Carline      Subs Unused: Ransome, Martin