After a turbulent week for the Pitmen, in which former manager Liam McDonald left the club to take up the managerial position at Solihull Moors FC, it was up to new manager Paul Casey to take the helm for this derby FA Trophy replay at Marston Road.
In front of a bumper, partisan crowd of 1005, the game finally exploded into life in the 18th minute when a terrific drive from Elliott Hodge crashed off the post and Dan Crane dived full length to deny the follow up shot.
In the 23rd minute an Ash Sammons free kick was headed goalwards by George Carline and after beating the excellent Whitehouse in goal, the ball was well cleared off the line.
Soon after, a heavy challenge on Danny Glover saw him suffer a hamstring injury and he had to be withdrawn with substitute Tristian Dunkley coming on, returning from suspension.
On 42 minutes a tussle on the edge of the box saw Michael Williams cautioned by the referee and, after deliberation between the match officials, Elliott Hodge was given his second caution of the game and dismissed from the field of play when he appeared to have little involvement in the incident.
Half Time: 0-0
The second half started in similar vein, competitive in midfield and, with both defences in reasonable control, keeping goalmouth chances to a minimum.
In the 67th minute a clumsy challenge by Michael Williams attracted a second caution which saw him receive the red card from referee Greg Rollason.
Then, on 79 minutes, Josh Gordon, evaded a couple of challenges and tucked a very neat finish into the bottom corner of the net to give the home side the lead.
As the final minutes of normal time ticked away, the Pitmen pressed forward for an equalising goal and, in the 90th minute, a low driven cross into the Stafford penalty area was well turned in by Tristian Dunkley to take the tie into extra time.
Score at 90 mins: 1-1
With both sides starting to tire in extra time, a number of mistimed challenges received cautions and in the 116th minute a penalty kick was given for one such tackle by Lewis Wright, the penalty converted expertly by Stafford substitute Izak Reid, to start the home crowd’s celebrations.
Score AET: 2-1
Stafford Rangers: Whitehouse, Morris, Bowen, Townsend ©, Bailey, Taylor, Hodge, Tolley, Perry, Geddes (L Reid), Gordon (I Reid 90).
Subs (not used) Batchelor, Griffiths, Lee.
Hednesford Town: Crane, Williams, Bramall, Maye, Mutton, Flanagan, Singh (Wright 76), Thorley © (Phipps 82), Glover (Dunkley 34), Sammons, Carline.
Subs (not used) Ransome, Martin.
Star Man: Mutton
Entertainment Rating: Three Stars