It was advantage Hednesford Town following this first leg of the Mike Hughes Memorial Trophy tie against Stafford Rangers as a late goal in either half proved the difference between the sides.
Hednesford almost took the lead in the opening minute as Ben Bailey headed a corner narrowly wide of the upright.
Although Stafford pressed forward they rarely troubled Dave Parton and it should have been Town taking the lead in the 11th minute only for Kyle Perry to be denied when through one-on-one with Adam Whitehouse.
Rangers’ first real effort arrived after 21 minutes when Wayne Daniel saw a low strike blocked on its way to goal by a Town defender.
Back came the Pitmen and after Paul Ennis saw his header tipped onto the bar in the 34th minute, Phil Trainer was denied by Whitehouse five minutes before the break.
With the home side well on top they eventually made the breakthrough as Jake Heath slotted home from 12 yards out after good work by Andy Todd to give his side the lead two minutes before half-time.
A flurry of substitutions by both sides saw play slow a little in the second half but Hednesford almost doubled their lead when Ahmed Obeng saw his effort spin wide of the upright after 67 minutes, while Daniel was again denied ten minutes later when he found room inside the Pitmen’s box.
Rangers’ substitute keeper Wren was called into action after 84 minutes as Tyrone Williams saw an effort saved at the near post.
However Town would increase their lead four minutes from time as Obeng was brought down in the box and he slotted home to give Hednesford the advantage going into the second leg.
Parton, Todd, James (Tilt 61), Bailey, T Williams (Morrison 87), Mills (France 61), Heath, S Williams, Perry (Robinson 71), Ennis (Obeng 61), Trainer (Craddock 71)
Subs not used: Adams, Sanders, Mugisha
Whitehouse (Wren 46), Griffiths, Morris, Rooney, Daniel, Miles (Johnson 58), Edmunds (Kassiama 58), Reid, Dance, Haseley (Wynter 58), Melbourne
Subs: McNaught, Curtis, Ellis, Wood
Star Man – Tyrone Williams
Match Entertainment – Three Stars