Pictures John Hopkins
TONY Gray’s late header earned Warrington Town a 2-1 win over Stafford Rangers.
Gray glanced home from Ben Garrity’s cross to complete the comeback after they had fallen behind to Paul Bignot’s second half header.
It was a second successive home win for Paul Carden’s men, and they now have a six point cushion in the BetVictor Northern Premier play-offs.
On a bitterly cold afternoon, the football on display did little to warm the 374 in attendance.
Stafford had the first half look at goal, Evan Garnett firing wide of the far post on 11 minute, then setting up strike partner Bradley Grayson to force a comfortable save out of Tony McMillan.
The Yellows should have taken the lead on 16 minutes, Gray left in acres of space in the box with the Stafford defence frozen expecting an offside call, the veteran striker denied by Lewis King from eight yards out.
King was almost caught out by Bohan Dixon on the half hour mark, caught well out of his goal, the Yellows midfielder only able to find the side netting with the goal unguarded.
Stafford were perhaps fortunate to end the first half with a full complement of players, midfielder Sherratt had already been booked when he appeared to foul Steve Jennings in injury time, and as the crowd held its breath expecting a second yellow and a sending off, the referee inexplicably changed his decision and moments later would book keeper King for kicking the free-kick at Dixon who was stood yards away.
That bizarre incident would set the tone for a second half fragmented by a succession of odd decisions and needless yellows, nonemoreso than when Jack Mackreth was booked for alleged timewasting when he miscontrolled the ball when it was out of play.
In amongst the cards, Stafford took the lead on 54 minutes, a good delivery from a right wing corner by Grayson saw Bignot nod home at the near post to give the league’s bottom side the advantage.
They would stay in front until the 71st minute, when a relatively harmless low ball from the right by Dixon was spilled in the goalmouth by King, who ironically had been dribbling the ball across his box time wasting moments earlier, enabling Garrity to scramble home from close range for his eighth goal of the season.
Dixon was trying to make things happen, his turn on half way prompting a cynical foul by Bignot that resulted in another booking, and he then shot over the bar after getting away from Bignot on the left.
A long throw from the returning Louis Barnes, who entered the fray as a second half substitute, looped off a defender for Jack Mackreth, who just couldn’t get a good connection on the volley and that looked like it might be the golden opportunity for the Yellows five minutes from time.
But they would pinch the three points two minutes from the end, Dixon’s run and shot saw the ball retrieved by Garrity on the right, he chipped the ball in for Gray near to the penalty spot, and he guided his header expertly in to the far corner.
Warrington are next in action on Monday night, when they travel to Kidsgrove Athletic in the Integro League Cup.
Warrington Town: McMillan, Duggan (Barnes), Warren, Jennings, Roberts, Raven, Mackreth, Garrity, Gray, Dixon (Sephton), Banister (Byrne). Unused subs: Jordan, Murray.
Stafford Rangers: King, Green, Hill, Bignot, Burns, Harvey, Berks, Sherratt (Jones-Griffiths, Grayson, Garnett, McGuffie. Unused subs: Burns, Briscoe, Davies, Stubbs.