DATE  26.12.2016
COMPETITION   Evo-Stik Premier League
Stafford Rangers  STAFFORD RANGERS (1) 2
 Perry (22), Morris (62)
Hednesford Town  HEDNESFORD TOWN (1) 1
 Glover (35)
MoTM  Danny Glover
TOP SCORERS  Carline / Glover (9)
FORM GUIDE  W  W  W  D  L  L  L  W  W  L  L
1st Rushall Olympic 26 49
2nd Whitby Town 25 44
3rd Buxton 25 43
4th Spennymoor Town 23 42
5th Blyth Spartans 22 41
7th Matlock Town 22 40
8th Workington 25 39
9th Grantham Town 27 38
10th Barwell 26 38
11th Nantwich Town 21 37
12th Mickleover Sports 24 37
Today's big local derby swings the way of home side Stafford Rangers this afternoon, as a second half header from Kieran Morris wins this Evo-Stik Premier League clash between the local rivals

The Pitmen, still smarting from a 4-1 defeat to Grantham Town before the festive period, made more changes to their ever-evolving side under Paul Casey. Kyle Haynes was passed fit to make his second debut for the club after returning to Keys Park from Halesowen Town. Striker Vinny Mukendi, signed from North Ferriby United last week, started up front alongside Tony Clarke in a heavyweight front pairing. Striker Danny Glover was finally deemed fit enough to return to the squad after his lay-off, joining Spencer Weir-Daley and Jamie Matthews amongst the substitutes

Rangers - still holding local bragging rights after beating the Pitmen in the F.A. Trophy last month - named three ex-Hednesford players in their starting line-up, with Sam Griffiths, Kyle Perry and Richard Batchelor all making the XI. Kris Taylor was named amongst the Rangers substitutes, alongside midfielder Tim Sanders, who had joined Rangers from Nantwich Town earlier in the day

In front of an outstanding crowd of over 1,800, the Pitmen made a great start to the game and almost broke the deadlock inside the first five minutes. A long ball over the top of the Rangers defence found Clarke, who forced his way beyond Mat Bailey before firing straight at Adam Whitehouse in the Stafford goal with an angled shot

A quick break from the Pitmen three minutes later saw Ashley Sammons break through the home defence, but rather than elect to shoot Sammons checked his run and laid the ball off to skipper Tom Thorley, whose shot went wide of goal

A marauding run from Haynes a minute later saw the right back hang up a deep cross for Clarke, who headed narrowly wide of goal after beating Bailey to the ball

Another great chance was presented to the goalless Clarke on fifteen minutes, as more neat play involving Mukendi and Thorley played the big striker in on goal. Clarke hesitated however as he shaped to shoot, and allowed Whitehouse to make a comfortable save

Rangers' first threat came from successive corner kicks on nineteen minutes, with the second kick putting paid to Mukendi's debut after he fell heavily in his own goalmouth. After a period of treatment, the former Macclesfield man was taken off in place of eight-goal Glover

This change seemed to disrupt the Pitmen's flow, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Stafford took the lead two minute later with their first effort on goal. A fluffed kick from Crane gifted Rangers a throw in deep in Hednesford territory, with the ball played across to Perry. the burly striker got goal side of Dan Brenan and confidently slotted past former team-mate Crane from fifteen yards out

Glover's introduction was to breathe life into the Pitmen once more, as his skill and presence up front caused Rangers issues. One great run from the striker on thirty two minutes saw him cut inside Griffiths and and fire in a low shot that Whitehouse saved at his near post

Batchelor went close to adding to Stafford's advantage on thirty four minutes drilling a shot across the face of Crane's goal and narrowly wide of the far post

It was to prove costly for the hosts, as Glover delivered a real Christmas treat for the near 400 Hednesford supporters who had made the short journey across the Chase. Picking the ball up out wide on the right, Glover drifted inside and past two challenges before unleashing an unstoppable left-footed effort beyond Whitehouse and into the top corner of the net. A great goal that takes Glover to nine for the season and joint top scorer with the now-departed George Carline

Lifted by the goal, Hednesford continued to press as the half came towards an end, with Clarke again luckless in front on goal on thirty nine minutes as he headed Courtney Wildin's deep cross inches wide of the far post

The best chance to take the lead for the visitors fell to Sammons on forty one minutes, as a brilliant run from Glover saw him turn Griffiths inside out and clip a cross into Sammons, who somehow lifted his shot over the crossbar from six yards out

The Pitmen started the second half in much the same mood, as they forced Stafford onto the back foot in the early stages of the second period. Three corners in a row were well dealt with by the Rangers defence, with the Pitmen wasteful with their poor distribution from set-pieces. The closest they came to a clear sigh on goal was a bobbled effort from Glover on forty eight minutes, who flashed a shot wide of goal from long range

Rangers did have the ball in the net on fifty one minutes as Crane denied Batchelor initially before the ball was bundled home, but an earlier offside flag put paid to Stafford's celebrations

Crane came to the Pitmen's rescue two minutes later, making a fine smothering save low down to deny Josh Gordon a clear sight at goal

One of the Pitmen's rare set-pieces of any quality on the hour mark saw Gavin Caines somehow fail to find the net, as his header from six yards out lacked power and was cleared off the line

The Pitmen will reflect on another afternoon of missed opportunities, as they allowed Stafford to take the initiative once more on sixty two minutes and punish the away side for not taking their chances; a free kick out on the right was floated in and found defender Kieran Morris, who headed past Crane from ten yards out

The goal essentially neutralised the game for a good spell of the second half, as Stafford seemed content to protect their lead, whilst the Pitmen seemed unable to muster a real response. Weir-Daley was given another chance to impress as he came on for the tiring Clarke on sixty six minutes

Gordon very nearly wrapped up all three points for Rangers on seventy minutes, drilling a shot across the face of goal and out of play by Crane's left hand post

David McDermott replaced Sammons in midfield on seventy two minutes, as the Pitmen made their second change of the afternoon

The in-form Crane was called upon once more to save his team on eighty minutes, making a brilliant save to deny Izak Reid after Perry had played the midfielder through behind the static Hednesford defence

The Pitmen finally made a fist of it in the latter stages of the game, as it moved into five minutes of added time. McDermott flashed a shot inches past the right hand post as he tried his luck from the edge of the penalty area with two minutes of added time gone

A minute later, panic in the Stafford ranks saw Glover seize upon the loose ball and chest it down, but his effort was agonisingly inches away from finding the net

In the final minute of added time, Wildin's presence of mind inside the penalty area saw the Boston loanee control the ball and turn well, watching on in anguish as his effort came back off the post

A second league defeat in a row sees the Pitmen drop out of the play-off places, and hand bragging rights to Rangers for the second time this season already. Paul Casey is certainly finding the going tough as Hednesford manager after a topsy-turvy first six weeks in the manager's role. The Pitmen return home to Keys Park on Thursday night as they entertain Stourbridge, who will have one eye on their F.A. Cup Third Round cash with Wycombe Wanderers next week
Gavin Caines up against ex-Pitman Kyle Perry  New boy Vinny Mukendi tracks back for a corner  Dan Brenan - a tough afternoon for the youngster  Danny Glover - made an impact after coming on with the equaliser
No. Player Mins On On/Off For Goals
Dan Crane 90  
Kyle Haynes 90    
Courtney Wildin 90
Stuart McNaught 90    
Gavin Caines 90    
Dan Brenan 90    
Tom Thorley 90    
Ashley Sammons 72 McDermott  
Tony Clarke 66 Weir-Daley
Jamie Sheldon 90  
Vinny Mukendi 20 Glover  
Jamie Matthews 0    
Danny Glover 70 Mukendi 1
Spencer Weir-Daley 24 Clarke
David McDermott 18 Sammons
Kyle Rowley 0