pictures John Hopkins
STAFFORD Rangers put a further dent in Warrington Town’s title hopes as they held the Yellows to a 1-1 draw at Marston Road.
It was Warrington’s second successive game against Rangers, having gone down 3-2 at Cantilever Park a fortnight ago.
And they once again dropped crucial points in the title race, despite Jack Dunn’s second half equaliser cancelling out Andrai Jones’ scrappy goal on the stroke of half time.
Missing suspended Ben Garrity, sent off in the meeting between the two sides a fortnight ago, Warrington handed a first league start to Russell Benjamin, while Tony Gray returned up front.
On a bobbly pitch that didn’t encourage a flowing passing game, neither side really got a grip of the encounter and spent long parts trying to wrestle appropriate field position.
The first real sighting of goal came on 12 minutes when Joe Cuff cut in from the left hand side but shot well over when off-balance.
Josh Amis was creating a nuisance of himself at the other end, though Stafford’s defensive pairing were doing just about enough to keep him at bay, he lashed a shot wide via a deflection on 18 minutes to force the first corner of the game, which inadvertently created a counter attack opportunity for Stafford via Theo Bailey-Jones, who was just beaten to a through ball by Tony McMillan.
Cuff was causing the most threat for Stafford and he showed a lovely touch to beat Mitch Duggan, but there was no one in the box to get on the end of his teasing ball in.
The best chance fell to Warrington on 27 minutes, Dylvan Vassallo weaving his way in to the box and poking it through for Amis, who controlled and shot on the turn, forcing Adam Siviter in to an acrobatic tip over the bar.
Amis shot wide from a tight angle before Jack Dunn almost caught Siviter out at the near post from a free-kick as Warrington started to enjoy a bit more field position.
But they were dealt a killer blow on the stroke of half-time, McMillan spilling a corner before denying Luke Jones with the follow-up. It wasn’t enough to snuff out the danger though, as the ball made its way in to the goalmouth for Andrai Jones to steer home for 1-0 at the break.
Warrington came out quickly at the start of the second half and superb control on the edge of the box by Vassallo created space for Dunn, who went down looking for a penalty but the referee rightly waved him away.
They were thankful to ‘keeper McMillan for keeping them in the game, he made himself big to save Jake Charles’ header from point blank range after Andrew Haworth had taken advantage of a slip by Mark Roberts.
But the visitors got back on terms shortly after the hour mark. A sloppy free-kick by Mitch Duggan resulted in some broken play and when it settled down, Amis spread the ball wide for Tony Gray and his cross was tapped in at the back post by Jack Dunn.
That triggered by far Warrington’s best period of the game as they huffed and puffed for 10 minutes without really creating a real chance.
The introduction of Jack Mackreth from the bench gave the Yellows added impetus, and he really should have scored the winner on 73 minutes.
Dunn’s refusal to give up on a lost cause saw him twice charge down a clearance, the ball fell for Gray who clipped it across for Mackreth, who had time to bring it down in the box and slide it past the oncoming Siviter, but agonisingly it slid wide of the far post.
It would prove the closest Warrington would come to a winner, while at the other end McMillan denied Theo Bailey-Jones and captain Mark Roberts put in a crucial last ditch tackle on Charles as he raced through on goal.
Benjamin, who was arguably the best player for the Yellows, struck a well-hit half volley four minutes from time that was well saved by Siviter but the Yellows had to settle for a point as they lose further ground on rivals Farsley Celtic and South Shields, ahead of next Saturday’s visit of Gainsborough Trinity.
Stafford Rangers: Siviter, Bignot (Coulson), Hill, L Jones, Burns, A Jones, Bailey-Jones (Williams), Thorley, Charles, Haworth (Briscoe). Cuff. Unused subs: Davies, Mills.
Warrington Town: McMillan, Duggan (Dixon), Whittle, Evans, Roberts, Raven, Vassallo (Mackreth), Benjamin, Gray (Cusani), Amis, Dunn. Unused subs: Hughes, McCarthy.