Stafford Rangers 9 Nantwich Town 5
STAFFORD Rangers secured a memorable treble of County Youth League and Cup winners to accompany their deserved Sentinel Cup final victory 3 – 1 over Meir KA at the Britannia Stadium just three days earlier.
Boro had suffered their only league defeat to Nantwich so were determined to turn the tables.
Rangers were simply outstanding for an hour of this game and leading 6 – 1 had played some of their most attractive football.
Alex Hannan struck first with the game barely two minutes old. He spun his marker on the edge of the area and from 20 yards found the top left hand corner.
A magnificent 30 yard through ball from Harry Wightman gave Jack Edwards the chance to score and he duly despatched past the advancing keeper.
Wightman added a third from a free kick delivered by Alex Curtis and then Jack Edwards crossed for Billy Thorley to slam home from six yards securing a four goal cushion at half time.
Defensively Rangers were rarely troubled as Wightman alongside Marcus Matthews, Max Kiddle and Jake Shaw provided the platform for midfielders Joe Kroll and Tom Vaughan to pull the strings throughout a one-sided first half.
The second period, for 15 minutes, followed a similar pattern of defensive dominance and attacking flair. Rangers introduced Sam Marsden, Josh Renshaw, Sean Phillips, Mat Smith and Jake Nicholl’s and all quickly settled.
A super through ball from Phillips set Curtis free and he was fouled by the Nantwich keeper so conceding a penalty that Curtis converted to give Rangers their fifth goal.
A bizzare goal for Nantwich followed as a long lofted free kick from 50 yards took a wicked bounce off the floor and looped up off a wet pitch into the top corner to reduce arrears.
Rangers quickly responded and great play from Smith provided Nicholls with a chance which he drilled under the keeper to make it six.
In the final 30 minutes Rangers maintained their forward threat but took their eye off the ball defensively, looking jaded and leggy.
Perhaps when Nantwich pulled back a goal from a free header the signs may have been there but Rangers again responded and with 15 minutes left Curtis scored his second when fed by Thorley, chipping over the advancing keeper.
However again Rangers failed to concentrate and Phillips conceded a penalty despatched to make the score 7-3. Again Rangers responded as the game opened up into a flurry of attacks.
A flying save to deny Smith dropped to Thorley who slotted home from three yards out for 8-3. A near post corner for Nantwich was missed by the reliable Wightman and a brave header added another for Nantwich.
Rangers now desperately looking for the final whistle scored again, Nicholls with another smart finish taking his tally to two and 9-4.
Finally another freak goal as Nantwich scored their fifth, this time the bounce which had beaten everyone for the first Nantwich goal deceived keeper Wes Hopwood again as he responded to a header which failed to bounce completely and slid home under the dive to wrap up an amazing encounter.