Stafford Rangers 1 – 1 Grantham Town
League | Tuesday 20th August 2019 Report by Alan Gee
Attendance | 564
Having beaten FC United, in their opener, Rangers knew that Grantham would provide stern opposition, and this was just the case. In a game that could have gone either way, Rangers were resolute, when called upon, but also missed chances to take all three points. The home side looked brighter than their opening day defeat, from the off, as Alex-Ray Harvey lashed a powerful effort wide, from long range, in the fifth minute and Jake Charles won the first corner a minute later. When that corner was cleared, an Andy Haworth cross was headed over by Charles at the near post. The first quarter saw both sides looking lively in possession but Grantham’s moves seemed to fade in the final third, for all their effort.
Rangers attacked on twenty minutes with Charles finding Haworth, but his effort flew across the goal. Shortly after, the Gingerbreads threatened as the lively Jacob Green cut in from the left in his hard-low cross drew a brilliant save as Lewis King denied Craig Westcarr. A while after, Greg Smith saw his overhead effort go harmlessly wide. On twenty five minutes, Rangers were in luck as an attack saw defender Dan Burns in an advanced position and, as the ball was whipped in from the right, he got in front of keeper Tom Nicholson and got enough on the ball to find the corner and give Rangers the lead. Five minutes later, play switched ends again and another mazy run from Green saw his powerful shot saved by King. Play continued to switch sides and the final action of the half saw another Rangers corner partially cleared but Charles retained possession and his hard work saw another effort go wide. At half time, Michael Tweed was replaced by Fernando Bell-Toxtle as the visitors switched to more of a 4-4-2 formation. While the wing backs no longer went of their forays, they looked solid and hard to break down, while the massive throw-ins from AJ Adelekan were a constant threat the Rangers defence dealt with admirably. The early chances were not as clear, with Westcarr having a sixteen-yard effort blocked, while Haworth shot well wide at the other end. Just before hour, Rangers broke down a Grantham attack and broke at speed through Charles, who squared to Evan Garnett. As he bore down on goal and prepared to increase the lead, Captain Danny Racchi somehow got back to block his effort and avert the danger. For all their threat, Grantham took an hour to win their first corner. Although this was cleared, a couple of minutes later their second came close as James Berrett’s effort was block before James Atkinson drew a save from King. Both sides continued to enjoy spells of possession, but Grantham eventually wore the home defence down as a ball in was flicked on by Westcarr and Adelekan was at the back post to equalise via the underside of the bar on seventy-six minutes. With both sides trying to apply pressure, for the remainder, it was the visitors who came close, at the death. In injury time, Ryan Baldwin got on the end of a cross and King brilliantly tipped his header from under the bar and from the resulting corner, he then saved from Tom Ward, meaning Rangers unbeaten home run continues from Christmas 2018. Sponsors MOTM – Dan Burns
Stafford Rangers: 1 Lewis King, 2 Paul Bignot, 3 Matthew Hill, 4 Luke Jones, 5 Daniel Burns, 6 Alex-Ray Harvey, 7 Theo Bailey-Jones (Jack Sherratt 69′), 8 Tom Thorley, 9 Jake Charles, 10 Evan Garnett (Louis Briscoe 86′), 11 Andrew Haworth (Jed Davies 77′) Subs: 12 Louis Briscoe, 14 Sam Coulson, 15 Josh Green, 16 Jed Davies, 17 Jack Sherratt
Grantham Town: 1 Tom Nicholson, 2 Michael Tweed (Fernando Bell-Toxtle 45′), 3 Jacob Green, 4 Rob Atkinson, 5 Tom Ward, 6 Aj Adelekan, 7 James Berrett (McGovern 84), 8 Daniel Racchi, 9 Craig Westcarr, 10 Gregg Smith (Baldwin 81), 11 James Baxendale Subs: 12 Ryan Baldwin, 14 Jack McGovern, 15 Fernando Bell-Toxtle, 16 Nathan Smith, 17 Sam Andrew