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Clarke earns smash and grab win for Yellows at Stafford

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WARRINGTON Town made it two wins from two with a smash and grab raid at Stafford Rangers on Tuesday night.

Eddie Clarke found the top corner from the edge of the box midway through the second half, after the Yellows had held off the threat of the hosts, buoyed by their opening day victory over Morpeth Town.

Stafford had two goals disallowed and also struck the post as Daniel Atherton earned a second successive clean sheet in goal.

Paul Carden made just one change to the starting side that beat FC United 2-0, with Jack Mackreth’s international clearance arriving in time for him to start in place of Sean Miller, who dropped to the bench, where he was joined by new signing Nathan Corness.

The Yellows made a scrappy start and the first quarter of the game was largely played in their half, as Stafford threatened through left-winger Joe Cuff and forward Jake Charles.

The first chance Cuff had at getting James Baillie one-on-one he managed to get to the outside and fire a cross in to the middle which fell to Thomas Tonks, his shot diverted on to the post by a Charles flick.

Tonks was causing problems with his long throws, and from one of them, Charles turned sharply and shot over the bar.

After two disappointing corner routines, the Yellows finally had a look at goal on 37 minutes when Jordan Buckley turned his man in the box and was denied by Adam Whitehouse at his feet, before flashing the rebound across goal.

Stafford did get the ball in the net before half-time, only for ex-Love Island contestant Luis Morrison-Derbyshire to be denied due to a foul on Atherton.

The Yellows got greater control of the game after half time, though Stafford found the net on the hour mark again, Cuff brilliantly volleying home Tonks’ chip in to the box, only to be flagged offside.

The game changed thanks to a tactical switch by Carden, who brought Matt Regan on for Luke Duffy and changed to a back three with two wing backs.

It was one of those wing backs, Clarke on the left, who would be the matchwinner.

Mitch Duggan played the ball in to the channel for Buckley and then continued for a return ball, that he hit against the far post first time. The ball came out to Clarke on the edge and he found the top corner past Whitehouse for his first goal for the club.

Whitehouse was forced off injured with 15 minutes to go, forcing midfielder Tonks to don the gloves with no ‘keeper on the bench.

Without Tonks orchestrating things in midfield, Stafford never really looked like forcing an equaliser until deep in to injury time, when Cuff struck the post with a clever free kick hit to the near post.

Substitute Matty Grivosti wasted a chance to make the points safe off Buckley’s break, but the final whistle soon followed to ensure the Yellows’ perfect start continues.

Stafford Rangers: Whitehouse (Navarro), Burns, Lennon, Ten-Grotenhuis, Morrison-Derbyshire, O’Neill, Kenton (Ofori), Tonks, Charles, Fletcher (Malbon), Cuff. Unused subs: Dawes, Moran.

Warrington Town: Atherton, Baillie, Clarke, Duggan, Roberts, Ali, Mackreth (Grivosti), Hough, Buckley, Dixon, Duffy (Regan). Unused subs: Corness, Shepherd, Miller.

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Journalist and sport content specialist, who is also editor of Love Rugby League. Formerly ran the official website of the Carling Cup, as well as operating a digital services business in Warrington.

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