Match Report: Stafford Rangers vs City

The dollies got back to winning ways in style with a 3-0 away victory at Stafford to keep the pressure on South Shields at the top of the table.

City were without the injured Niall Cowperthwaite and suspended Paul Dawson, Ben Hudson came in Lewis Fensome and Brad Carsley joined Matt Blinkhorn in a two man attack.

The early exchanges were fairly even with an early chance falling for Charlie Bailey who was played in behind expertly by Rob Wilson, but his left footed shot flew wide of the upright with just the keeper to beat. At the other end Daniel Hawkins saw Staffords first effort well marshalled by Sam Ashton.

On 16 minutes came the breakthrough, superb work from Carsley winning a corner after the referee played an excellent advantage, Sam Bailey whipped over the delivery that was nodded in by Glenn Steel and the Dollies were in front. The goal galvanised the away side and on 36 they doubled their lead, another superb corner from Sam Bailey met by Matt Blinkhorn who glanced his header past Lewis King in the Stafford goal.

Then controversy, Charlie Bailey booked for an innocuous challenge on half way and just 5 minutes later his foul on Jaiden White brought a second yellow and City were down to 10. The reshuffle saw Wilson move to the left and Blinkhorn into a more withdrawn midfield role, City would see out the remainder of the half with minimal fuss.

As expected Stafford saw much more of the ball in the second period, but with little penetration from a dogged, organised and hard working Lancaster side they only drew one save from Ashton in the remaining 45 minutes.

At the other end City were looking increasingly dangerous on the break, Carsley mistiming a chip with King stranded on 58 minutes which would have put the game to bed. But he wouldn’t miss again, his never say die attitude chasing down a long clearance from Ashton saw him get to the ball first, outmuscle the covering defender and slot into the empty net for 0-3.

A late flurry of Stafford corners were well fielded by City and Kieran Feeney, Jack Evans and Nialle Rodney were all introduced for Carsley, Blinkhorn and captain Simon Wills to provide fresh legs as the torrential rain fell. Indeed Feeney had a chance to make it 4 at the death but his shot come cross flashed across the face of goal.

City now go into Christmas joint top of the table, 2nd only on goal difference with the mouthwatering prospect of a Boxing Day derby with Bamber Bridge at the Giant Axe.