Express & Star

Ilkeston Town 3 Stafford Rangers 1 - Report

Stafford Rangers’ winless run in the Northern Premier League extended to 12 games after a 3-1 defeat on the road to Ilkeston Town.


Dale Belford remains in charge of the Rangers as interim manager, with the visit to the New Manor Ground the first league match for Stafford since Matt Hill’s departure.

Despite Ethan Morgan pulling one back for the visitors, the Robins proved too strong with goals from Tyrell Waite, James Perch and Ben Starkie. The Rangers remain 21st-place in the standings with their last league victory coming in late-August.

Sam Bird offered the first effort on goal for the Rangers, volleying over in the ninth-minute following good work from Ben Woods on the left. Ilkeston’s Jamie Walker found the top of the crossbar with his header three minutes later before Nathan Blissett saw his header scrambled away from close-range with appeals for handball and a Stafford penalty.

Cameron Belford held Walker’s curling effort from the edge of the box just after the 20-minute mark before Niah Payne searched for a Stafford opener but saw his shot blocked. Blissett then felt he should’ve had a spot kick as he was grappled in the area and headed wide.

Former Rangers player Waite then gave Ilkeston the lead. The striker turned the ball home from the back-post as the home side enjoyed success down the right-side.

Belford saved Zak Goodson’s effort as L’Varn Brandy caused havoc for the Rangers defence and saw his shot spilled by the Stafford shot-stopper. Able to clear for safety, Ilkeston continued to rally after the break as Jamie Walker’s shot was seen away.

Sam Bird’s long-range free-kick then led to what Stafford thought was the leveller. The defender’s strike struck the post and fell kindly for Nathan Blissett who fired straight at the goalkeeper who lay in the net. The Rangers faithful celebrated, likewise to the players, but according to the officials Yates had prevented the ball from crossing the line.

The Rangers’ frustrations continued to grow as Ilkeston skipper James Perch then made it 2-0 in the 71st-minute rifling his shot into the roof of the net.

Substitute Ethan Morgan was able to pull one back for the away side slamming home in the 80th-minute, however just as there was a glimmer of hope and a chance for a comeback, Ben Starkie delivered the final blow. Finding himself through on goal and in behind the Rangers defence the forward finished with composure from the ball over the top.