RANGERS GRAB FIRST 3 POINTS OF THE NEW SEAON IN 5 GOAL THRILLER
Stafford Rangers 3 FC United of Manchester 2
Pitching In Northern Premier League
Saturday 19 August 2023
After back to back defeats from the opening two games, Stafford Rangers recorded their first
win of the season at The Stan Robinson Stadium, beating FC United of Manchester in an
Rangers welcomed new signing Aaron Braithwaite to the starting XI - the young midfielder
having arrived on loan from Grimsby Town. Tyreece Onyeka missed out having picked up an
injury in the midweek defeat against Warrington Rylands. Jimmy O’Neill is a long term
absentee following a knee injury which occurred in pre-season while Tom Tonks’ ongoing
disagreement with the club meant that he was not in the squad.
It was the visitors who started the better of the two teams and they had their first chance in
the 5th minute when Declan McLoughlin had a shot but he dragged it wide of the goal.
Rangers’ first serious attack saw FC United keeper Pat Boyes tip a cross out for a corner.
From Alex-Ray Harvey’s flag kick both Curtis Jones and Charlie Oliver tried to clear their
lines but the ball was diverted into the net - seemingly off the latter - to give Rangers a 16th
minute lead - and their first goal of the season.
FC United looked for a quick response and had a golden chance in the 24th minute from
Luke Griffiths’ free kick. Jones won the header at the back of the post but it was straight at
The afternoon got better for Rangers on 25 minutes when they went 2-0 up. It came from the
right wing with Joe Willis’ cross and Niah Payne was on hand to convert.
FC United got their way back into the game in the 37th minute when Sam Bird was
penalised for handball as he attempted to block a low cross from Jay Fitzmartin. Luke
Griffiths stepped up and fired straight down the middle to make it 2-1.
Looking to restore their two goal advantage, Rangers tested Boyes again just before the
interval with the visiting keeper stopping a shot from Payne and, from the resulting corner,
Ethan Stewart’s header.
That wasn’t the last action of the first half as a great run from Michael Donohue created an
opportunity for Max Cane but Belford made an excellent save and followed it up to deny
McLoughlin from the rebound.
It was Rangers who struck a crucial third on 58 minutes. A long throw from Bird was flicked
on at the front post by Jake Moult and Nathan Blissett rose highest to head home.
The Boro had another chance in the 66th when Joe Willis got into a dangerous position in
the box but Boyes made another save to deny the home side.
FC United reduced the arrears once more in the 67th minute when sub Nic Ballado did well
on the left. He found Donohue who laid it back for another of the visiting subs, Keane
Barugh, to strike into the top corner from around 25 yards out.
Chances kept coming at both ends. For Rangers, Anderson was blocked by Oliver while FC
United came close to an equaliser from a corner which came back off the post before being
Ben Woods, on for Payne, forced another save from Boyes while late opportunities for the
visitors through Fitzmartin and Elliot Morris went unconverted.
Stafford Rangers: 1 Cameron Belford, 2 Sam Bird, 3 Joe Dunne, 4 Alex-Ray Harvey, 5
Ethan Stewart, 6 Jake Moult, 7 Kaiman Anderson, 8 Aaron Braithwaite (12 Andy Burns 89m)
9 Nathan Blissett (16 Ethan Morgan 73m), 10 Joe Willis, 11 Niah Payne (15 Ben Woods
69m). Unused Subs, 14 Jay Ford, 17 Rory Roberts
FC United of Manchester: 1 Pat Boyes, 2 Chiekh Thiam, 3 Guy Hall, 4 Luke Griffiths (16
Paul Ennis 65m), 5 Charlie Oliver, 6 Curtis Jones, 7 Elliot Morris, 8 Michael Donohue, 9 Max
Cane (14 Nic Bollado 64m), 10 Declan McLoughlin (12 Keane Barugh 58m), 11 Jay
Fitzmartin. Unused Subs 15 Lewis Coulton, 17 Jan Palinkas
Referee: William Cavanagh
Cautions: Bird (Stafford)
Report by Chris Elsley