Saturday, 16 April 2016


16 APRIL 2016 --- 3PM
At the end of 90 minutes the hoped for celebrations for the massive crowd of 1,250 were put on hold as Stafford were unable to break down a resilient Basford side who really should have won the game in the end but they failed to convert 2 penalties.  Much as Stafford saw shots blocked and saved with visiting keeper Saul Deeney in fine form it was home stopper Adam Whitehouse that was the toast of the day for Rangers with his two spot kick saves.
Here we go again then Saturday morning and this time its not just overnight rain but snow in some areas that sees many a game fall foul of the weather and the decision was made to take in Stafford Rangers for what would be a surprising first visit to club and town for the blog.  The Marston Rd club are rich in history with an evocative ground with many interesting corners and areas to it, this was made even more so when we arrived just at the right time to be given a mini guided tour of the ground by Peter the clubs sponsors greeter, thanks for an interesting look around and insight into the club.
So we set off with a first change at Derby followed by Tamworth arriving in Stafford at just after 1230.  A quick stroll around the streets taking in a few of the points of interest soon had us on the way to the ground along the Marston Rd.  The club, ground and street name is famous around the non league scene but I have to say the walk along Marston Rd was quite uninspiring tight narrow streets in what I guess was the old part of Stafford not offering much of interest never mind a chippy!
Our arrival at Stafford Rangers FC saw a very welcome tour from the afore mentioned Peter which set us up well for the afternoon, we relaxed back for a drink in one of the many lounge/bar area, our selection being the Stan Robinson Suite which was a little quieter.  The Chairman's Suite received a visit from the blog and here the club were entertaining sponsors with pre match meals from a smart hospitality area offering some good views of the pitch too.  We re entered the ground having paid our admission through a rather tight turnstile block that once inside offered an immediate chance to purchase todays match day programme from the adjacent cabin, which later saw the teams posted on its wall.
The ground shows us straight ahead with the chance to walk through the players tunnel entrance and onwards to get hold of some 50/50 tickets within this area is the club shop and large external snack cabin, which I guess is franchised out.  Here I left Mick to purchase while I made a trip around to take some pictures, but on the way back when he approached with a small cone of chips containing about 10 of the potato delicacy for £2 my fellow traveller was a bit disappointed.  Onwards and the impressive main stand is deep and straddles either side of the half way line and entry costs a further £1.  Behind the stand is an exit that we use at the end of today's proceedings and beyond the stand a deep terracing which continues to the rear of the far goal the 'shed' end which fans are trying to raise money to re roof after the previous stand was dismantled after the clubs brief journey into the Conference in the early 2000's.
The far side is a covered terrace with the first part of the structure steel supported and the second part wooden.  Coming back to behind the goal where we entered is the club house and its array of suites.  So overall a large crowd that supports the history of this successful club that saw glory days in the 1970s with its FA Trophy wins and Alliance League participation.  The football club appears to be on the up after some difficult days over the last decade, but with the team sat at the top of the Evostik Division 1 South the crowds are clearly there if current attendances are anything to go by.  Clearly a sleeping giant but I think the club are determined not to over commit and create any future problems that may threaten its future. 
Todays visitors Basford Utd are sitting comfortably in 4th place and confident of a play off place but for Stafford to secure the title today and see the silverware presented they have to better Shaw Lane Aquaforce's result.
Stafford started sharply and visiting keeper Saul Deeney had to be alert to save Ben Haseley's shot after 12 minutes.  Basford had spent the early stages thwarting the home sides advances but were awarded a penalty on 25 minutes when Jermain Hollis was brought down in the box.  The spot kick was well hit by Stuart Hendrie, although poorly placed, and Adan Whitehouse got his body in the way to keep the score goal less.  Just past the half an hour mark Deon Meikle went in on a sharp challenge which Levi Reid took exception to and we were into a mass confrontation scenario.  Once it had all calmed down referee Robbie Dadley consulted his nearest assistant Jade Prince and 4 players were cautioned, 2 from either side.
Stafford very nearly scored on 41 minutes when Peter Till burst into the box but again Deeley was at his best to deny Rangers.

Into the second half Josh Craddock headed over for the home side and as I began to predict the inevitable 0-0 conversation was started with Raph, formerly of Leeds but now living in Stafford.  He was clearly enjoying supporting Rangers over the last few years that he has been in the town and it was an enjoyable second half of conversation, than you pleased to see you.  Just short of the hour mark Stafford came very close to a deadlock breaker when Haseley hit the bar with an edge of the box shot.  The home side upped the tempo with Christian Dacres shooting just over on 78 minutes and then it was time for substitute Ahmed Obeng to add his skill to proceedings.  A superb run cutting in off the right set up Hasley whose shot was saved by Deeney and then a few minutes later Obeng got an effort in on goal that once again Deeney was equal too.  With a minute of the 90 to go Obeng looked to have fired home from close range only for the ball to hit his own team mate in Sam Griffiths to block the ball on the line.
Referee Dadley signalled 4 minutes time to be added and in the second of these Basford were awarded another chance to win this game when Antony Griffiths Junior was upended in the box and substitute Ruben Wiggins Thomas stepped up started his run hovered waiting for keeper Whitehouse to chose which way to dive, he didn't and stood upright to pull off his second penalty save of the game.
Result wise this was a weird game Deeney was in excellent form for Basford between the sticks, Basford defended well but Stafford should have probably won it.  But on the counter balance Basford's two missed penalties were and amazing chances going begging to take all three points back to Nottinghamshire.
A steady walk back to Stafford station for the 1755 departure only to arrive with 25 minutes to spare and a glance up at the departures board to see that horrible word 'CANCELLED', happy days once again London Midland miss a service for us its the second time in 4 weeks.  With over an hour to wander around we visited the big 'M' for some fast food and reclined in the lovely sunny Victoria Park watching some bowls and enjoying the warmth of the April evening sun, good grief its almost like poetry!  The cancellation was annoying to say the least but this extra hour spent watching and chatting to the bowls players was an nice addition to the blogs visit to Stafford.
The time arrived and thankfully the 1855 was not cancelled and with a brief change at Tamworth and Derby we were back at base station an hour later than planned at just before 2030.
With Shaw Lane also returning a draw the football goes on for both clubs but I guess Stafford, with a tough game at Coalville, next week just have to keep calm and keep doing what has served them so well so far this season.

1 comment:

  1. Very fair reflection of the match. A pleasure to meet you, I enjoyed the conversation. Best of luck with the blog. Next time you're in Stafford, give me a shout... we'll do proper fish & chips!