Match report: Stafford Rangers lose 2-0 to Morpeth Town as relegation looms



STAFFORD Rangers slipped deeper into relegation trouble with a poor performance that saw them lose at home to Morpeth Town in the Bet Victor League Premier Division.

For the second game running, Rangers finished with 10 men after Josh Burns was sent off just before the hour mark following a clash with Morpeth’s Carl Finnigan.

Jaiden White and Sam Coulson dropped to the bench from the starting XI that lost to FC United in midweek with Brad Grayson and Jack Sherratt given recalls.

Also on the bench was Evan Garnett after his loan spell with Belper Town.

Despite playing into a gusty wind, Rangers were on the attack inside the first minute as Grayson chased a ball from Josh Burns.

As he closed in on goal, Grayson went to ground under the challenge of Jeff Henderson, but the referee showed no interest in penalty appeals. It was a game defining moment.

Morpeth benefited from the wind with Rangers struggling to clear their lines but efforts from Liam Henderson and Chris Reid didn’t threaten.

On 15 minutes, Henderson got behind the Rangers back line and although Lewis King did well to make the initial save, the Morpeth front man followed in with a diving header to put the visitors ahead.

Three minutes later, Henderson missed a chance to double the score but scuffed his shot wide.

Rangers came close to a leveller but Dan Burns headed over from Jon Moran’s header on following Tom Thorley’s corner.

Jake Charles also missed out when his shot lacked power to beat Dan Lowson. In between, Morpeth’s Jeff Henderson headed wide from Ben Sayer’s corner.

Rangers finished the half strongly but Grayson failed to take a number of chances that came his way.

His first effort went high and wide after he chose to shoot from distance.

A poor touch saw him take another opportunity too wide before he scuffed a third chance wide. Grayson’s day was summed up on the stroke of half time when Lowson saved bravely at his feet.

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The second half started with Reid going down in the Rangers area under a challenge from Josh Burns but, rather than award a penalty, the referee cautioned the Morpeth man for a dive.

King saved from close range to deny Liam Henderson before Morpeth went 2-0 up on 56 minutes when Reid headed in at the back post from a free-kick. Three minutes later, Burns saw red for using an elbow on Finnigan, virtually ending Rangers’ chances.

Forster went for goal from 20 yards out and Sayer tried his luck from a similar distance, King saved on both occasions.

At the other end, Grayson got clear again for Stafford via Charles’ long ball but Lowson saved again.

Rangers’ defence had to undergo another reorganisation when Jon Moran had to leave the action with a cut eye after colliding with Dan Burns.

Morpeth ended on top with King keeping out Liam Henderson and Sam Hodgson on a sorry afternoon.

Rangers: King, J Burns, Hill, Moran (Coulson 83m), D Burns, Harvey, Grayson, Thorley, Charles, Diau (Garnett 79), Sherratt (Cuff 55). Unused subs: Bignot, White

Morpeth: Lowson, Turner, Reid (Walton 78), Noble, Hutchinson, Henderson, Forster, Hodgson, Henderson, Sayer (Turnbull 74), Finnigan (Foale 71). Unused subs: Williams, Mohammed

Referee: Neil Pratt

Cautions: Hill (Stafford), Reid, J Henderson, Finnigan (Morpeth)

Sent Off: J Burns (Stafford)

Attendance: 407





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