Stafford Rangers 4-1 Hednesford Town

It was to be a forgettable Staffordshire Derby for the Pitmen as they crashed to a heavy defeat against local rivals Stafford Rangers on a gloomy afternoon at Marston Road.

Hednesford were unable to name Ben Bailey in their matchday squad due to a delay with his international clearance being granted – however midfielder Ryan Shaw did come in for his full debut.

It was the hosts who made the quicker start and they would go ahead in the third minute when the Pitmen were unable to get out of their own box and a low ball across the goal was turned home by Jake Charles at the far post.

Just three minutes later Hednesford would be level though when Michael Howard latched onto a goal-kick from Josef Bursik, which had defeated everyone, to score his eighth goal of the season.

Stafford almost retook the lead in the 11th minute as Joe Cuff skipped past Kieron Dawes only to see his low effort hit the post and rebound away to safety.

In the 24th minute Andrew Haworth should really have capitalised on a loose backpass from Charlie Gatter, but the striker blasted high and wide. A minute later Bursik had to react quickly to come and smother a through ball that Cuff had latched onto.

Hednesford players and supporters would be incensed in the 31st minute when a speculative effort from Romario Martin caused George Sykes-Kenworthy to spill the ball through his legs before carrying it well over the line thanks to pressure from Dan Cockerline. As the players ran off celebrating the officials somehow failed to spot this most obvious of goals and waved play on – thanks in no part to assistant referee Elliott Holman.

However, the Pitmen couldn’t blame anyone but themselves for falling behind in the 39th minute as the backline was again caught out before Cuff moved inside Dawes and fired a powerful effort into the back of the net despite Bursik getting a hand on the ball.

Right on the stroke of halftime Stafford almost added a third when a header hit the inside of the post from a corner.

HT: 2-1

Stafford would get their third goal 11 minutes into the second half though when a corner was swung in low with Charles able to turn it home at the near post.

The hosts were now well on top with Hednesford unable to get out of their own half and it came as no surprise when they added a fourth goal in the 67th minute. Again, it would come from a corner as although the initial set piece was cleared the ball found its way to Charles and he was left with the simple task of firing home from six yards to complete his hat trick.

Hednesford were now well beaten and the closest they would come to reducing the arrears would be in the 84th minute when Jack Hallahan skimmed a shot onto the roof of the net.

In the end though the sorry Pitmen were well beaten and now have a free week from action as they look to get their season back on track.

Stafford Rangers: Sykes-Kenworthy, Coulson, Green, L Jones, Burns, A Jones (Sherratt 46), Bailey-Jones, Thorley, Charles, Haworth (Benns 77), Cuff (Reid 80)
Subs not used: Askey, Banks

Hednesford Town: Bursik, Dawes, Fox, Hallahan, Misambo, Gatter, Davies (Dodd 64), Shaw (King 78), Cockerline, Martin, Howard (Logan 64)
Subs not used: Veiga, Abadaki

Attendance: 668

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