STAFFORD Rangers’ winning streak came to an end on Monday when they came up against top of the table Leek Town away and lost 2-0.
Both sides had a 100 per cent record from three fixtures going into the game but it was the home side who took the spoils with two first half goals.
Leek controlled most of the play in what is thought to have been the first ever league meeting between the two county sides although Rangers created the first chance when Christian Dacres’ header went wide of the post after three minutes.
The home side fielded five former Boro players in their starting line up with another on the bench.
Leek made the breakthrough after 25 minutes when a corner from Bell found Dan Shelley 25 yards out and his shot, deflected off Niall Maguire’s boot and past Whitehouse.
They extended their lead when Sam Hall headed Bell’s free kick beyond the reach of Whitehouse in time added on before the break.
Leek continued to create the better chances after the interval with Shelley and Maguire both guilty of missing the target when well placed while Liam Shotton reminded Rangers fans of his time with the Boro a coulpe of years ago when his shot ended up out of the ground.
Shotton missed another glorious chance when he fired against the post from two yards out. Joe Ballinger was on hand to head Hall's follow up off the line.
Rangers sub Jordan Nadat forced a near post save from Ben Chapman but it was Leek who looked the most likely to add to the scoring as Whitehouse tipped over a drive from Bell and Shotton hit the woodwork once more but Leek settled for their two first half strikes to take the points.
Leek: 1 Ben Chapman, 2 Dan Smith, 3 Ashley Jackson, 4 Sam Hall, 5 Karl Espley, 6 Darren Chadwick, 7 Niall Maguire, 8 Dan Shelley, 9 Tim Grice (12 Jordan Johnson 77m), 10 Liam Shotton, 11 Matt Bell (14 Anthony Danylyk 80m). Unused Subs 15 Paul Donnelly, 16 Andrew Kinsey, 17 Bradley Moorhead
Rangers: 1 Adam Whitehouse, 2 Sam Griffiths, 3 Mark Branch, 4 Joe Ballinger, 5 Wayne Daniel, 6 Michael Williams (12 Chris Smith 72m), 7 James Dance, 8 Christian Dacres, 9 Ryan Wynter (15 Jack Edwards 67m), 10 Dan Cope, 11 Alex Curtis (14 Jordan Nadat 53m). Unused Subs 16 Joel Mills, 17 Louis Downes
Cautioned: Smith, Maguire, Grice (Leek) Daniel, Dacres (Rangers)
Referee: Matthew Donohue
The match came on the back of three straight wins for Rangers including a 3-1 home victory against Mickleover on Saturday which saw another good gate of 426 at Marston Road.
Manager Neil Kitching said his fledgling squad had had a busy start to their season with nine points from four games.
“We have had four games in eight days so it’s very much been all hands to the pump. We don’t get any time to work on pattern of play, shape and set pieces. We have been fortunate to only have one injury, Levi Reid.”
The team do now have a breather of a few days which Kitching says will be useful.
“We have four days now so the lads can rest and come in on Thursday and we can work on things. I can assess where we are, who’s done well and who’s not done so well.”
On Saturday Rangers travel to Walsall Wood for an FA Cup preliminary round match.
“We have a massive FA Cup tie on Saturday, which will be like a cup final for us. Some of our lads probably haven’t played FA Cup preliminary rounds so there will be a few nerves.
“What has pleased me is that we stuck together when our backs were against the wall a bit on Monday. We could have folded which I’m told happened on numerous occasions last season but we stuck together and stayed in the game for as long as we could. That’s a big plus for me.”
Kitching was keen to point out that his team was still developing.
“The three or four teams we have played against have all been together three or four seasons – we are very very early into putting a squad together and it’s going to take time.”