Express & Star

Inexperienced Stafford Rangers squad have plenty still to work on

A lack of experience compared to their competitors cost Stafford Rangers against Worksop Town according to manager Dave Cooke.


The Rangers were beaten 2-0 at the Stan Robinson Stadium with goals from Hamza Bencherif and Jordan Burrow.

Cooke’s side remain 19th in the Northern Premier and five points adrift of safety from the danger zone as the Boro boss pointed to Worksop’s experience which gave them the edge.

“They’re not at the top of the league for no reason,” said Cooke. “We knew it was going to be a difficult game, which all games are at this level and at this moment in time with the personnel that we’ve got.

“We could’ve been three or four down at half-time.

“These teams that we’re coming up against with the experience that they’ve got seem to have that bit more nous than what we have at this moment in time.

“It was exactly that, a very experienced Worksop side. On another day we might’ve got something from the game, but again disappointed that we’ve come away with no points.”

The Rangers welcome Ilkeston Town next Saturday with 13 games remaining this season and boss Cooke will be absent from the touchline due to undergoing a hip operation this week.

Cooke hopes to see his side start finding the net again as the Rangers have failed to score in their last three matches which have all been losses.

He said: “We’ve got to start scoring goals again. I spoke to the players in the week about how during the two victories (against Gainsborough Trinity and Matlock Town) we had we scored seven goals without conceding and now the next seven goals have been scored by the opposition.

“If we score the first goal we become a lot better, when we concede we look fractured. Whether it’s because they’ve been beaten that many times this year is another thing but the first goal is massive.

“I still think we can improve the players that we’ve got.

“We’re trying to get bodies in to improve because we know we need some better personnel in. It’s not that easy but we are making inroads to that.”

Worksop had the ball in the back of the net after a minute through Vaughan Redford, but celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag for offside.

Kaiman Anderson was denied well by Sebastian Malkowski before Simon Njaria’s follow-up was seen away in a frantic start to the match.

Likewise, Joe Willis was denied before Worksop winger Jay Rollins caused trouble, but Belford was equal to his shot.

Tigers’ skipper Bencherif then headed Worksop into a 12th-minute lead at close range, and it was too easy for the centre-half rising above the Rangers defenders in the six-yard box from a corner on the left.

Rollins nearly made it two moments later before Josh Wilde posed the biggest threat for a second Worksop goal heading towards half-time, but Jake Moult was able to deny the full-back, who enjoyed success down the left side throughout the first period.

Connor Heath’s goal-line clearance scuppered Bencherif’s headed chance for a second heading before Belford fantastically turned away Burrow’s effort.

Entering the second period, Redford blazed an effort high over the bar before Wilde’s header was held. The away side continued their relentless attacking as Colin Daniel saw his effort blocked with just over an hour played.

Heath looked to ignite a spark for Stafford and to gather some attacking momentum for the home side as the winger cut inside and shot from afar but was off-target.

However, any Stafford good work was undone in the 72nd-minute as Reford headed across goal for Burrow to nod home and extend the away side’s lead. Rollins will earn praise for his play in the build-up as the Rangers made it too easy for their opponents again.

Stafford substitute A-Jay Leitch-Smith was denied superbly at close-range by Malkowski diving to his right as the home side committed bodies forward. However, Worksop eased to victory as Redford fired off-target searching for a third late-on.