Express & Star

Stafford Rangers 1 Workington AFC 0 - Report

Stafford Rangers claimed their second Northern Premier League victory in a row to gather some momentum in their bid for survival.

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Sean Cooke continued his scoring streak as the Rangers narrowly beat Workington AFC 1-0, but remained three points adrift from safety.

Dave Cooke named an unchanged side to the one that beat Bamber Bridge 2-0 the previous weekend as Stafford unveiled their new mural before kick-off.

The away side started fast out of the blocks and Stephen Rigg saw his effort at close-range blocked inside the third-minute. Sam Hetherington then nearly netted an extraordinary goal as his long-range, dipping shot tested Cameron Belford by the post and looked close to crossing the line.

Appeals for a goal denied, Workington continued their offensive as Conor Tinnion volleyed waywardly over the bar past the 20th-minute.

However, the Rangers came alive, and Tyreece Onyeka led Stafford’s attacking play causing problems for the Workington defence.

It was Sean Cooke who provided the breakthrough - netting for the second consecutive match in the 28th-minute, and in similar fashion to the previous weekend. The managers’ son was there to pick up the pieces and roll home the ball with ease from close-range after the initial chance for Kaiman Anderson was squandered.

Eight-minutes later, Cooke searched for a second, forcing James Atkinson into a diving after George Burroughs darting run forward.

The away side searched for a leveller before half-time as Tinnion tested Belford - who was out of his goal - with an optimistic long-range effort. Sam Hetherington saw his effort blocked soon after, but the Rangers kept the advantage at the break.

Dave Cooke’s side started the second-period strongly - piling the pressure on Workington and searching for a second. Stephen Rigg blazed an effort high over the posts in the 54th-minute before Atkinson denied Joe Willis with his legs and held Connor Heath’s low shot.

The Rangers were relieved to see Tinnion’s free-kick sail past the post after the hour-mark. The away side began to rally and Ethan Stewart was able to scramble a chance away at close-range.

The defender headed onto the top of the net minutes later in the 76th-minute as Dave Cooke took off his half-time substitute Connor Heath in a bizarre moment.

Hetherington should’ve levelled for Workington with just under ten-minutes to go as he volleyed wide from inside the box and unmarked. The midfielder will rue the opportunity as the waves of Workington attacks led to nothing and resilient defending saw Stafford hold out for the win with late chances missed by Stewart and Kian Taylor.