Express & Star

Bamber Bridge 0 Stafford Rangers 2 - Report

Stafford Rangers gained vital ground in their battle for Northern Premier League survival thanks to Sean Cooke and Connor Heath’s second-half goals.


The Stafford boss’ son gave the Rangers a deserved lead minutes into the second period before Heath inflicted the decisive blow as the Rangers ripped up the form book to claim victory and move three points adrift from safety.

After three league defeats in a row, Rangers boss Dave Cooke named George Burroughs at left-back for the Rangers while also bringing in Tyreece Onyeka.

It was a cagey opening to the match with the cold northerly wind sending Andy Burns’ cross out of the ground before a fantastic sliding tackle from Danny Forbes denied Sean Cooke the opportunity to test goal after the 10-minute mark.

Simon Grand yielded the first effort on goal eight-minutes later with his header wide while Michael Potts tried to liven up the occasion and spark a Bamber attack, but his misplaced pass out of play perfectly summed up a dull first 25-minutes of the game.

As the blue skies appeared approaching the half-hour mark, the first goal of the game nearly did too. After a close-call for an own-goal for Bamber Bridge, Sean Cooke was denied with his effort from a well-worked Stafford corner.

Rallying, Rangers winger Tyreece Onyeka burst through for his side but saw his effort blocked by Grand to keep the game goalless. Looking the more dangerous side in the game, Joe Willis fired narrowly wide seven-minutes from the break

The Rangers have made a habit of conceding goals on the stroke of half-time so far this season, and they were relieved when Adam Dodd shot wide after cutting in from the left before the half-time whistle.

Rangers boss Cooke will have been encouraged by his side’s first-half performance, and even more delighted when they gained the lead in the 48th-minute. His son, Sean, picked up the pieces at close-range after Anderson was denied through on goal by goalkeeper Pradic, and thankfully for Tyreece Onyeka who squandered an open-goal opportunity from the rebound, Cooke found the net with ease.

Striker Anderson searched for his side’s second on the hour-mark, but was denied well by the stretching Pradic in net for Brig. Tyreece Onyeka continued to cause the home side problems upon his return to the Rangers side as he showed his skill cutting in and finding Sean Cooke who was denied fantastically by Macauley Wilson on the line.

Substitute Connor Heath sealed victory minutes from the end heading home at the back-post unmarked from Onyeka’s cross on the right. The Rangers fans were sent into raptures as Dave Cooke’s side earned a Non-league Day win.