Stafford Rangers 2-1 Hednesford Town

It was derby day disappointment once again this season for Hednesford Town as they against lost out 2-1 to Stafford Rangers at Marston Road.

Manager Paul Casey gave a debut to new striker Vinny Mukendi following his arrival from North Ferriby United late last week but it was his strike partner Tony Clarke who would be in action first after a long ball over the top found the frontman who saw his first-time effort from just inside the box saved.

It was a lively start from the Pitmen who went close again after a breakaway move eventually saw the ball find its way to Tom Thorley who curled his shot over the bar before Clarke headed an effort wide of the post in the ninth minute.

After seeing off a couple of Rangers corners the Pitmen continued to push and Clarke saw another effort saved before Mukendi was forced off with a broken nose after he attempted to clear a ball into the box.

It would be Stafford that would strike first though in the 22nd minute when a ball into the box was missed by two defenders and found its way to Kyle Perry who fired a low shot into the bottom corner of the net.

Town substitute Danny Glover saw a shot easily saved in the 33rd minute before Richard Batchelor fired an effort just wide of the upright.

An equaliser would arrive in the 35th minute as Thorley kept the ball in and played it forward to Glover who, after cutting inside from the right, drove forward before firing a superb shot into the top corner of the net.

It would be the Pitmen that would end the half stronger as Clarke again saw an effort go wide before Glover worked his way down the left and found Ashley Sammons who fired well over the bar.

HT:1-1

Six minutes into the second period the home side thought they were back in front after Batchelor saw an effort saved, but as the ball was turned home it was disallowed for offside.

In the 56th minute Gavin Caines went close for the Pitmen as he flicked a free kick on and after a deflection he was unable to get onto the rebound to turn the ball home.

But Hednesford were finally undone by a free-kick as an unmarked Kieran Morris headed home from six yards out into the bottom corner after 62 minutes.

Stafford came close to extending their lead in the 70th minute when Josh Gordon flashed an effort wide of the upright.

Izak Reid then had two chances to make the game safe as first Perry put him through against Dan Crane, but the keeper did well to close the angle and Reid’s shot lacked the invention to beat him.

Then Reid battled to get into a good position in the area and hooked a shot over his head and over Crane, but wide of the goal before the shot stopper made another good save to deny Gordon.

As the game ticked into stoppage time Hednesford suddenly kicked themselves into life as first substitute David McDermott fired a shot just wide from distance and Glover came even closer with a volley from inside the area that went inches wide.

The last two meetings between these sides had seen Hednesford snatch a late equaliser, and it looked as though they might do the same here, but Courtney Wildin’s shot thundered against the crossbar and moments later the final whistle blew to inflict defeat on the Pitmen.

 Stafford Rangers: Whitehouse, Griffiths, Bowen, Bailey, Morris, Tolley, I Reid (Sanders 90), Sherratt, Perry, Gordon (Dwyer 90), Batchelor
Subs not used: Taylor, L Reid, Gunnell

Hednesford Town: Crane, Haynes, Wildin, McNaught, Brenan, Caines, Thorley, Sammons (McDermott 72), Clarke (Weir-Daley 66), Sheldon, Mukendi (Glover 22)
Subs not used: Matthews, Rowley

Attendance: 1,826

Star Man: Tony Clarke

Entertainment Rating: Three Stars

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