STAFFORD Rangers were robbed of a deserved point by a controversial last-minute penalty at West Lancashire College Stadium on Tuesday night and went down 3-2.
Unchanged Rangers started brightly with Fabrice Kasiama going close. A deep cross from Andy Mason saw Danny Quinn rise above the keeper but he could not find the target with his header.
Promoted Skelmersdale were finding it difficult to break through the Rangers defence until a mistake by Darren Bullock let in Joe Holt forcing Jon Brain to save. Brain then kept out Ashley Dunn's follow-up before Rangers broke with Kasiama almost turning in a cross from James McCarthy.
On the half hour, the home side took the lead. A low cross from Holt was not dealt with and Adam Morning tapped home. The lead was doubled four minutes later. Holt fed Kevin Leadbetter on the right and his far post cross was headed home by Nick Rogan.
Rangers pulled a goal back four minutes after the break when Michael Lennon dispatched a Martyn Jackson through ball. Boosted by this, Rangers upped the pace and the ball broke to Kasiama, who had an awful lot to do, but rode the challenges and finished with his right foot.
Rangers’ hearts were broken with just a minute remaining. A fine break by Dunn saw his shot well saved by Brain.
The keeper was equal to the follow-up from Lloyd Dean but was then adjudged to have tripped Dunn. A penalty was a harsh decision and Leadbetter made no mistake from the spot.
It was an outcome that leaves Rangers without a point after six league games. On Saturday they visit unbeaten Chorley, who are fourth in the Evo-Stik premier table.
Rangers: Brain, Mason, Davies, Spittle, Bullock, Flynn, McCarthy, Jackson, Quinn (Steadman 45), Lennon, Kasiama. Subs not used: Sheldon, Langston, Heler, Alcock
Booked: Mason, Kasiama (Rangers)
Referee: Paul Hodgkinson; Att: 235