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Leigh RMI 1 Stafford Rangers 3

By Matt Lawton
October 22 2005

Two early goals proved to be the undoing of RMI as high-flying Stafford Rangers became the latest side to defeat RMI, coming out 3-1 victors at Hilton Park. RMI returned to Hilton Park after three away games in succession that saw Andy Nelson’s young side lose 4-0 at high-flying Kettering and get a point from Alfreton on Tuesday night, a week after Conference North rivals Gainsborough Trinity knocked them out of the FA Cup at the Third Qualifying stage, with Trinity losing 4-0 at home to York City in the next round earlier today.

While RMI are on the lookout for some more league points to get their season back on track, which had a particularly bright start with a win in the rain at Redditch and beating the likes of Stalybridge and Hinckley, visitors Stafford had kept up their good start and went in to the game in third place, though looking to move up to second spot with a win.

The difference in league placing was pretty obvious from the start, with the visitors nearly going ahead within a matter of minutes of the start when a header off a corner kick beat John Lamb in the RMI goal, only for captain Andy Roscoe to clear the ball off the line at the back post.

This proved to be somewhat of a wake-up call for RMI and they started to create a couple of chances of their own, with Chris Simm firing straight at the goalkeeper from a promising position, before a terrific counter-attack left Neil Smith and Simm against the Stafford goalkeeper and just one of his defenders. However, with Simm screaming for the ball and a certain goal at the back post, Smith went for glory and the goalkeeper tipped the ball over the crossbar at the near post.

Mark Drew cleared the ball off the line following some hesitancy in the RMI defence nearly let Stafford in, before RMI were punished for their wasteful finishing when a cross from the right evaded everybody until the ball reached Neil Grayson at the back post, with the veteran midfielder putting the visitors in front.

That lead was quickly doubled when centre back Lee Atherton completely lost his bearings and was tackled on the edge of his area by Nathan Smith, who gleefully put the ball past a furious Lamb. The large travelling contingent chanted “easy, easy” and quite frankly, it was, with Atherton subsequently brought off after his howler to be replaced by Tony Dunne.

Stafford were running riot and came close to adding to their lead on a couple of occasions while RMI posed very little threat, with Stafford very comfortable as the half-time whistle was blown.

Whatever Andy Nelson said to his side at half-time, it obviously had some effect on them as they immediately clawed their way back in to the game, halving the deficit within a minute of the restart. Left back Steve Brockley made a rare dash in to the box, and his determined run was brought to an end inside the penalty area, with the referee having little choice but to award a penalty. After Andy Roscoe’s recently penalty miss, most of the RMI support were all too happy to see striker Chris Simm step forward to take the penalty, though it seemed Roscoe would’ve also been happy to do so. Thankfully, it was Simm who took the spot kick and he promptly stuck the ball in to the net. Was this to be the start of an unlikely comeback?

As it happened, no it wasn’t to happen and a rare mistake from RMI centre back Liam Coyne saw Peter Thomson latch on to his desperately short back-pass and shrug off the attentions of the on-rushing John Lamb to restore Stafford’ two goal lead.

RMI never really threatened again after that while Stafford could’ve quite easily added to their tally as they continued their march up the table. RMI have got to improve, and fast.

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