Evo-Stik Northern Premier League | Saturday 27 April 2019
Stafford Rangers wrapped up their league season with a comfortable win against a Matlock Town side who will be glad to see the end of the current campaign. It’s a different story for Rangers however who are just starting to show their potential and another month would have seen them challenging for a top 10 place rather than 14th which they have to settle for. Having secured their league status last Monday and with the forthcoming Staffs Senior Cup final in mind, Rangers made several changes – including a welcome return to action for Josh Green after three months out through injury – but this re-jigged side was still far too good for Matlock who had leaked 10 goals in their previous two outings.
Four more were to follow at Marston Road but not before the Gladiators had taken the lead just past the half hour mark – triggering a goal rush after a fairly uninspiring opening. In fairness to players from both sides, conditions were far from ideal as wind and rain, combined with a bobbly pitch, were poor ingredients. Until the goals started to flow, the best chance had fallen to Matlock’s Marcus MacDonald on 27 mins when he broke in to the area on the right but found his path to goal blocked by Sim Thandi. Other than that, the main talking point was the yellow card show to Joe Cuff for a seemingly fair 50-50 tackle when two earlier challenges from Matlock players had gone unpunished. Cuff, it seems, has been targeted, and half a step out of line will earn a caution.
It was MacDonald who opened the scoring on 34 minutes when he took down a long ball from Dwayne Wiley and poked it past the advancing Adam Siviter. Two minutes later, Rangers were level. Matlock failed to clear a Jed Davies free kick and captain for the day Ben Mills drove home from around 15 yards after Andy Haworth had done well on the right to keep the attack alive. Three minutes after Mills’ strike, Rangers were ahead, and it was Haworth who got his name on the scoresheet for the first time although he did benefit from a wicked deflection off Matlock’s Adam Yates.
Haworth deserves credit for his part. Receiving a pass from Davies, he burst between two Matlock defenders before driving in a shot which was too strong for Yates’ fruitless attempt to cut out. Three minutes into the second half and Sam Coulson made it 3-1 with a left footer from around 12 yards out following another free kick into the Matlock area that the visiting defence failed to clear. There was a comical moment soon after when Matlock’s Greg Tempest and keeper Jordan Pierrepont both went for the same ball. Tempest got there first but in doing so nearly sliced the ball into his own net, having to hack clear off the line at the second attempt.
Mills wasted another chance when he rushed his shot after more poor defending from Matlock – this time Michael Hollingsworth and Bradley Beatson at fault – but Mills fired high and wide. It was Haworth who was to have the final say on the day. Four minutes from time, Thandi hit a long ball which should have been mopped up by Matlock but both Pierrepont and Beatson left it to each other, Haworth took advantage of the hesitation and nipped in to clip the ball over the stranded keeper. Wanting to go out on a high, Haworth was close to completing his hat trick a couple of minutes later when his 25-yarder hit the foot of the post.
Stafford: 1 Adam Siviter, 2 Josh Green (12 Tom Thorley 56m), 3 Sim Thandi, 4 Sam Coulson, 5 Dan Burns, 6 Andrai Jones (15 Jack Sherratt 60m), 7 Andy Haworth, 8 Peter Williams, 9 Ben Mills, 10 Jed Davies, 11 Joe Cuff (17 Louis Briscoe 69m). Unused Subs 14 Theo Bailey-Jones, 16 Luke Jones
Matlock Town: 1 Jordan Pierrepont, 2 Cleveland Taylor (14 Nathan Morley 51m) 3 Bradley Beatson, 4 Michael Hollingsworth, 5 Dwayne Wiley, 6 Adam Yates, 7 Nyle Blake, 8 Nathan Whitehead (12 Callum Chettle 60m), 9 Marcus MacDonald, 10 Jordan Chapell, 11 Greg Tempest. Unused Subs 13 Tony Fleming, 15 Lee Beevers, 16 Craig Westcarr
Cautions: Cuff (Rangers)
Ref: Paul Stonier
Report by Chris Elsley