FA Cup 3rd Round Qualifying | Tuesday 13 October 2020
Stafford Rangers’ pulled off an upset by defeating National League North side Hereford to book themselves a place in the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. It was a thoroughly deserved victory for the side who have managed just one goal in four league games this term and find themselves in familiar territory at the lower end of the table but have now successfully cleared three testing hurdles in the cup, scoring six times in the process.
The early signs were that the visitors would progress as they had the better of the opening exchanges. Luke Haines was a key figure for Hereford, and he sent in the first serious shot on goal – a long range effort that Lewis King tipped over. The early pressure was turned into an early lead when Tom Owen-Evans thumped home the loose ball on 15 minutes after Samir Nabi’s initial effort had been blocked.
Shortly after Hereford’s opener, Lewis King made a superb save to keep out a close-range header from Kennedy Digie. Rangers countered down the right through Joe Cuff, but Alex-Ray Harvey was denied by Hereford keeper Paul White diving full stretch to tip his shot away for a corner.
It was Cuff who fired home the equaliser on 28 minutes with a well struck drive that beat White inside his left-hand post. Soon after, Liam Langford had a great chance to put Rangers in front, but he hooked his shot over after White had failed to cut out Cieron Keane’s corner. The home side were now growing in confidence and Jamie Sleigh went wide at the near post following a good move on the left involving Langford and Keane. But there was still a threat at the other end and Digie saw his effort loop up onto the Stafford bar before the danger was cleared.
The first half ended with Rangers on top as Cuff played in Sleigh who managed to get round White but was unable to put any power behind his shot and Jamie Grimes cleared the lines for Hereford. The tie remained in the balance in the second half although the best opportunities fell to Hereford and Ryan Lloyd should have done better than plant his header straight at King before another long range effort from Haines went just over.
Rangers were still a threat themselves with Cuff and Sleigh giving the visiting defence plenty to think about. At the other end, Hereford hit the bar for a second time as Haines struck from near the right-hand touchline after a poor clearance from King. But the night belonged to Rangers as Cuff made it 2-1 on 82 minutes with a 25 yarder following a slip in the Hereford defence then Callum Coyle marked his return to action by making it 3-1 in added time, the substitute calmly checking back after going past White before slamming the ball into the net.
Stafford Rangers: 1 Lewis King, 2 Michael Williams, 3 Cieron Keane, 4 Sam Coulson, 5 Liam Langford, 6 John Welsh, 7 Joe Kenton, 8 Alex-Ray Harvey, 9 Jamie Sleigh (17 Ben Forrest 90+3m), 10 Muhammed Sebbeh-Njie (15 Callum Coyle 62m), 11 Joe Cuff. Unused Subs: 12 Dan Burns, 14 Reece Jones, 16 Ryan Nesbitt, 18 Matt Hill
Hereford: 1 Paul White, 23 Dan Jones, 6 Jamie Grimes, 12 Kennedy Digie, 7 Chris Camwell (24 Dylan Jones 75m), 3 Luke Haines, 21 Samir Nabi (4 Ben Pollock 58m), 17 Ryan Lloyd, 16 James McQuilkin (9 Andrai Jones 67m), 10 Tom Evans, 11 Kyle Finn. Unused Subs: 20 Brandon Hall, 5 Jake Wright.
Ref: Darren Rogers
Cautions: Keane (Rangers); Haines (Hereford)
Goals: Rangers: Cuff (2) 28, 82; Coyle 90+2 Hereford: Owen-Evans 15
Report by Chris Elsley