LOOKING for only their second league win of the season, Stafford Rangers got the perfect start against sixth place Matlock Town on Saturday, writes Dave McLean.
STAFFORD RANGERS 1 MATLOCK TOWN 3
One up after just 13 seconds, new boss Andy Mutch could not have wished for a better start, on an afternoon when newcomers Joe Guest and Edward Toner made their home debuts in midfield.
However, Rangers gave away a debatable penalty in the first period, then conceded two early second half goals and looked a very tired outfit by the final whistle.
“I’m very disappointed. It was the best start we could ever have had after scoring after just 13 seconds,” said Mutch afterwards.
That super start came straight from the kick off when Danny Quinn dispossed Lee Featherstone and fed Jermaine Johnson, who fired home from just inside the Matlock area.
Quinn then went close himself with a glancing header from a James McCarthy corner, before home keeper Jon Brain had to pluck a high lob from Danny Holland from under his own bar.
After Quinn had been denied by visiting keeper Jon Kennedy, the visitors broke into the Rangers box through Martyn Foster.
Both Lucan Spittle and Ollie Davies closed in on the Matlock player and the former appeared to win the ball, but Foster went down and the referee pointed to the spot.
Darryl Thomas stepped forward and beat Brain from the spot to level the scores with 22 minutes gone.
On the half hour, though, Rangers suffered a blow when Michael Carr was stretchered off with an ankle injury after a tackle on Lavelle White,
Rangers had to reshuffle with Johnson switching to full back, Just before half- time, Toner’s well struck drive was pushed away by Kennedy and Johnson’s follow up was tipped over the bar.
Rangers appeared to lose their way in the second period and Matlock punished them with two goals in as many minutes, just before the hour mark.
After Boro sub Jack Langston had a fierce drive deflected wide, Matlock broke to take the lead for the first time in the match on 56 minutes.
When Davies missed a long clearance from Kennedy, White hooked the ball over the advancing Brain, before adding the finishing touch.
Two minutes later, Matlock added a third when White cut in from the left and beat Brain with a rising shot that found the top corner of the home net.
Rangers best chance in response came on 82 minutes when Jon Sheldon brought a superb save out of Kennedy, before the follow up saw fellow Boro sub Jack Lees head wide from close range.
Teams: Rangers - Jon Brain, Michael Carr( JackLangston34),OliverDavies, Lucan Spittle, Darren Bullock, Jermaine Johnson, James Mc Carthy, Joe Guest, Danny Quinn (Jon Sheldon 73), Ed Toner (Jack Lees 61), Sam Bell. Subs not used, Christian Dacres, Alex Steadman.
Matlock - Jon Kennedy, Micky Harcourt, Lee Featherstone (Oscar Radford 10), Martin Foster, Dave Haggerty, Adam Yates, Liam Needham, James Ashmore, Danny Holland, Darryl Thomas (Corey Gregory 75), Lavelle White. Subs not used, Will Dennis, Liam Gaughan.
Bookings: Ashmore, Holland (Matlock).
Referee: Gary Hilton (Warrington); Att: 412.
Next up for Rangers is Saturday’s FA Trophy trip to Coalville Town (3pm). If no Tuesday replay is needed then Boro will entertain Stamford in the league on that same evening (7.45pm).