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Stafford Rangers 1 Harriers 2

Date: 26-12-06 Venue: Marston Road att: 1758 away fans: 475
Constables Chrimbo double see's off Stafford
With the away fans straining to get a decent view from under the ramshackle lean-to this was never going to be a slick affair judging by the state of the pitch and so it turned out.    The one end, that we played towards in the first half, could well have been the very place that Santa had landed his sleigh and four on during his visit to Stafford two nights previous.    Luckily for us his sack must have been too full and three points had fallen out waiting to be picked up by the hard working Harriers.

Two goals from James Constable, either side of the half time break, put the points in our bag to make it three League wins in a row now.    The best run of results for quite a while.

With Stuart Whitehead back in the side following injury and Rob Davies sat on the bench the main question would have been the whereabouts of Jake Sedgemore again.    In the side one week and no-where to be seen the following.

It was the former FGR man, Guy Madjo - pronounced by the Stafford mike-man as Gee Mayo - who nearly bought up our Christmas Pud when he could easily have scored in the opening few minutes.    The Harriers defence dithered and Mayo squeezed in between them to rifle a shot in that, thankfully, Scott Bevan saw coming and held onto it cleanly.

The ploughed field was making it impossible for ball players and so the likes of Simon Russell and Iyseden Christie struggled to get a foothold during the first half and both sides had now resorted to the long ball over the top.    Stafford seemed more adept at this game than we were and the launched ball into the corners were causing us some havoc at the back and also with Jeff Kennas lack of pace.

Once we'd got the measure of our opponents, and the pitch, we started to stamp our authority on the game and for a period midway through the first half we could have rattled in three goals.    James Constable was unlucky when Danny Alcock in the Rangers goal managed to get a fingertip to his powerful header to keep out what looked a certain goal and then Simon Russell saw his shot kept out too by the keeper.

Our third goal could have easily come from a Jonny Harkness corner that had been played short to Russell.    He sent in a tempting cross for someone that seemed to end up with all twenty two players and the ref trying to take a swing at it.    Stafford must have been relieved when it finally got cleared away upfield.

Three minutes before the break we got the all important first goal when Christie held off a Stafford defender just inside the box and then slipped the ball to the lurking Constable to fire the ball under the diving body of the Rangers keeper.
HT: 0 - 1
With the Harriers now playing towards the marginally better other end the fans could have expected to see a better playing performance from the lads and also an increase in the goal tally.    That came to pass fifteen minutes in when Christie again, un-selfishly, laid on the ball for Constable to notch his second goal of the day and also make it five goals in five games for the on-loan Walsall player.

Consensus from the Harriers fans was that we were going to go on now and increase the lead further but that wasn't going to be the case though as the incompetent referee decided it was high time that he became the centre of attraction.

There were some crunching tackles going in now and play acting by the bucketful from Ged Murphy when he clutched his face as Michael Blackwood tried to get past him.    Blackie hadn't touched him but the referee still had a word with him about it.

Russ Penn, his ninth of the season, got himself booked in a fifty-fifty clash over on the far side and then Constable watched as his name went in the book after he had opened his mouth once too often.    Crazily the Rangers players were also giving it out without any punishment coming their way at all.

With fifteen minutes left Rangers made a couple of changes with Madjo making way for Dolapo Olaoye and Matt Barlow on for Danny Edwards.    It was the first sub who was to play a hand in the Stafford goal soon after coming on when he beat Kenna to send over a cross that Craig McAughtrie headed home.

Minutes later and the home team could so easily have drawn level if it hadn't been for a wonder save from Scott Bevan.    Robin Gibson collected the ball twenty five yards from goal and, on the volley, sent the ball soaring to the top, right corner of the goal.    Amazingly Bev threw himself across and up to fingertip it the other side of the post and in doing so ensured the three points travelled back to Worcestershire.

The win makes it three in a row for us now and with a trip to struggling Southport and a home game to another struggling side, Cambridge, coming up then we could easily extend that to five good results and a surge towards the play-off zone.
FT: 1 - 2

 Goal for Stafford: McAughtrie 82
 Goals for Harriers: Constable 42, 57

The Harriers Online MotM is:

James Constable
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Stafford Rangers  subs   cards      Harriers  subs   cards 
Alcock     Bevan  
Sutton     Kenna  
Talbott     Harkness  
McAughtrie     Hurren  
Daniel     Creighton  
Basham     Whitehead  
Murphy     Russell  
Madjo     Penn gif
Grayson     Christie  
Edwards     Constable gif
Gibson     Blackwood  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Olaoye     S Taylor  
Barlow     White  
Hopkinson     Smikle  
Oldfield     Davies  
Murray     Reynolds  

REFEREE:
Mr I Smedley
Derbyshire





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