RUGBY Town’s return to league action did not bring a change in fortune as they slipped to a heavy 4-0 defeat at Stafford Rangers on Saturday, reports Craig Webb.
Despite holding out the Northern Premier League Division 1 South league leaders to 0-0 at half time, the hosts stepped up a gear in the second half to give the scoreline a flattering feel to Rugby and underlined Stafford’s promotion credentials.
The home side nearly took the lead in the first minute with Rob Parker stopping a shot on the line after a free header from Josh Craddock and in the tenth minute Ben Haseley produced a marauding run through the centre of the Rugby half, but his 25 yard effort went just over the bar.
A defensive error by Rugby’s Jon Adams, let in Levi Reid whose accurate cross found Haseley, but pulled his shot wide of debutant Liam Robert’s goal.
Rugby got their first decent chance in the 27th minute when Jake Healy found himself in space, but his shot was no trouble for home keeper Adam Whitehouse. Stafford continued to press, with Neil Harvey having a glancing header go agonisingly wide from a free kick.
The leaders took just five minutes of the second half to take the lead through Nathan Rooney. Matthew Wood’s precise cross found Harvey whose shot rebounded back to Rooney who easily struck past the helpless Roberts.
They doubled their lead in the 54th minute when Haseley coolly slotted the ball into the goal after being put through by Rooney and being untroubled by the Rugby defence.
Stafford were now in complete control and no surprise that they got a third goal on 62 minutes, Rooney got his second. Substitute Sam Griffiths crossed a delightful ball to the striker who saw his tame shot go past a static defence to squeeze over the line.
Callum Powell did his best to reduce the arrears with a rare shot on goal for Rugby in the 84th minute, but Whitehouse comfortably saved. Rugby’s miserable afternoon was completed in the 90th minute with impressive substitute George Cater marked his debut with a splendid scoop over Roberts from Peter Till’s ball.