Express & Star

Atherton Colleries 1 Stafford Rangers 0 - Report

Stafford Rangers’ Northern Premier League survival hopes took a huge hit with a 1-0 loss to fellow strugglers Atherton Collieries.


The Rangers remain two points adrift from safety, sitting in 19th-place, with two games remaining this season.

Stafford were left without winger Tyreece Onyeka as he remains sidelined through an hamstring injury.

Dave Cooke’s defence had earned plenty of praise recently, keeping three clean sheets from their last four league matches, but could not prevent their side from losing their 26th match of the season so far.

The Rangers started brightly as Joe Willis curled an effort narrowly wide after four-minutes played before Kian Taylor was unable convert at the back-post from A-Jay Leitch-Smith’s cross.

Atherton captain Ben Rydel led the home side’s counter offensive and hit the side-netting five-minutes later. His boss Dave Chadwick was then sent off in a bizarre moment after picking the ball up before it had left play.

Cameron Belford was relieved to see Ahmed Ali head over the goal after missing a punched clearance. And, with momentum Atherton then gained the lead.

Defender Jack Evans was able to gain space and fire towards the bottom-right corner where Dylan Thompson was to turn home and claim the final touch.

Frustrations grew for the Rangers as Joe Willis tried his luck from afar and came close to levelling, but Cooke’s side remained behind at the break.

Top-scorer Kaiman Anderson found himself through on goal shortly into the second-half but blazed his effort agonisingly wide from inside the box.

Then ticking over the hour mark, Jordan Scanlon expected to see his shot crash into the back of the net to double Atherton’s lead, but the bar came to the rescue for the Rangers.

Stafford fans were cheering thinking their side had levelled in the 68th-minute, but Leitch-Smith’s shot found only the side-netting before Jimmy O’Neill headed wide minutes later.

Frantic penalty appeals from Joe Willis, Stafford players and travelling supporters were waved away by referee Thomas Harland. Boss Cooke and assistant Dale Belford were left angered on the sidelines.

Atherton substitute Kyle King searched to make it two on the break late-on but his effort evaded the goal, and the Rangers fell to a disappointing defeat.