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Stafford Rangers 1 Harriers 3

Date: 14-08-07 Venue: Marston Rd att: 1126 away fans: 282
Richards brace sees off Stafford
New signing Justin Richards put the Harriers on the way to their first win of the season tonight when his brace either side of the half time whistle, and a Gavin Hurren goal in-between, gave us a 3-1 win at local rivals Stafford Rangers.

Jon Munday made his debut for the team with Andy Ferrell dropping to the bench and Michael McGrath made a start after the surprise non appearance of Michael Blackwood, reportedly suffering from a back injury.    For Stafford there were a large number of new signing's, too many to mention here, but they looked to be a better side than than last season.

The 'old man' Neil Grayson is still turning out for them at the age of 42 and he still seems to have lost none of his talents.    Love him or hate him his work rate puts many a young starlet to shame.    Most of the Rangers attacks come through him and it would be fair to say that without Grayson then Stafford would lack serious firepower.

Luckily for us his shooting was slightly off target tonight but it did still put the hearts in the mouths of the Harriers fans that had travelled the relatively short distance up the A449, or M6 if you were daft.

The majority of the first half was spent watching hoof ball as the side failed to grasp the idea of passing the ball accurately with new signing Munday being the main culprit.    His defensive work is fine but he really does need to measure the pass to a front man with a bit less welly.

After surviving numerous close calls on Scott Bevan's goal it was the Harriers that took the lead against the run of play when Brian Smikle skipped down the wing to deliver a decent cross into the area.    Landing in a ruck of players it looked as if it might be cleared but Richards managed to get a foot onto the ball to poke it past Danny Alcock for the opener.

For the next ten minutes the Harriers took advantage of the goal superiority and started to pass the ball around well but then on the stroke of half time the hosts grabbed a goal back.

Stafford were having an attack on our goal and the ball was cleared, but only for a short distance, by Gavin Hurren.    It fell just right for one of their new signing's, Sebastian Arnolin, to fire in a cracking shot that left Bevan rooted to the spot.
HT: 1 - 1
In the second half Stafford, who one would have thought would be eager to press on after scoring that late first half goal, looked a pale shadow of their previous forty five minutes.    Gone was their slick passing to the front men and instead they seemed happy to settle for the point apart from one superb strike from Grayson that Bevan did amazingly well to fingertip around the post.

The Harriers were quick to take advantage and Smikle came close to regaining the lead with a crisp shot that Alcock did well to save.    On sixty five minutes the lead did come though.

Smikle, again, was the instigator and fed the ball through to Hurren who was allowed to pick his spot by the back peddling Rangers defender and fire the ball long and low past the home keeper.

The Harriers totally dominated the game following the goal and made a substitution with Andy Ferrell coming on for McGrath to give us a bit more bite up front.    Six minutes from the end the game was made safe when we were awarded a penalty after Richards was fouled just inside the corner of the penalty area.

With the, very good for once, referee pointing to the spot it was Richards that placed the ball there and sent it into the corner of the net beyond the reach of Alcock.

Iyseden Christie came on at the re-start for James Constable and a few minutes later the hero of the night made way for Matt Barnes-Homer to play out the final few minutes.    In the dying seconds of the game it could have been 4-1 when Christie's shot was pushed over the bar by the home keeper.

All in all it was a good nights work from the lads and if they can build on this then it could also mean another three points at Grays this coming Saturday.
FT: 1 - 3

 Goal for Stafford: Arnolin 45
 Goals for Harriers: Richards 26,84 (pen), Hurren 65

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Stafford Rangers  subs   cards      Harriers  subs   cards 
Alcock     Bevan  
Sutton     Kenna  
Stones     Bignot  
McAughtrie     Hurren  
Daniel     Creighton  
Sangare     Munday  
Flynn     Smikle  
Arnolin     Constable  
Grayson     Justin Richards  
McNiven     Penn  
Hazley     McGrath  
SUBS:       SUBS:    
Duggan     Coleman  
Manak     Christie  
Adaggio     Barnes-Homer  
Jemiah Richards     Ferrell  
Hopkinson     Howarth  

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