FC UNITED OF MANCHESTER 1
STAFFORD RANGERS 2
STAFFORD Rangers stunned promotionchasing FC United of Manchester with a much improved performance at Gigg Lane to return home with all three points.
Rangers were forced into one change from the side beaten by Hednesford Town on Bank Holiday Monday. Harry Clayton was laid low with tonsillitis and his place was taken by Jon Sheldon.
Boro boss Greg Clowes chose a 4-5-1 formation to match their high-flying opponents and it certainly worked with United intent on building slowly and being stifled by Rangers’ hard-working midfield.
Rangers went close in the 17th minute when Sheldon’s inswinging corner dropped onto the roof of the net. On 27 minutes, a cross from Sheldon was almost turned into his own net by Adam Jones.
Three minutes later, Rangers were celebrating as they took the lead. A fine through ball from former United midfielder Michael Carr picked out Peter Heler who hit a fierce shot which James Spencer found too hot to handle and the ball flew past the home keeper and into the net.
Things got even better for the Rangers four minutes before the break when they doubled their lead with one of the goals of the season.
Rangers were awarded a free-kick outside the area. Carr delivered the ball into Ryan Dicker who had found space and the centre-back flicked the ball off his heel and into the top corner.
United bounced straight back and Kevin Street was on hand to chest a volley from Mike Norton off the line.
Rangers started the second half in the same positive light with United bringing on Carlos Roca after 53 minutes to add some pace into a lethargic performance.
United were gifted a glorious chance on the hour when a diabolical back pass from Luke George failed to reach Danny Read. Norton nipped in, rounded Read and was then brought down in the penalty area by Dicker.
Dicker, somewhat surprisingly, was only shown a yellow card and to compound matters for the home side, Read pulled off an excellent penalty save for the second game running to thwart Roca.
United were building up a head of steam and Read was again called into action to save from Ben Deegan who was allowed a free-header in the six-yard box.
The home side eventually pulled a goal back 16 minutes from time. Roca’s corner was met by Jones whose header was well saved by Read but the rebound fell to Norton who nodded home.
Rangers were again indebted to Street in the 82nd minute. Another corner from Roca was headed goalwards by Jones and Street was on hand to clear off the line.
The ball came out to Norton whose volley was deflected for a corner. As hard as the home side pressed, Rangers held on to record an excellent victory.