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FA CUP REPORT, REACTION & RATINGS: Worcester City 2 Stafford Rangers 3

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FA CUP LIVE: Worcester City v Stafford Rangers

By Andy Mitchell

Last updated:

    FT: City 2 (Brain 17, Roberts 57) Stafford 3 (Kenton 32, Cuff 36, 75)
  • CITY went within a lick of paint of a penalty shootout against higher-ranked Stafford Rangers in an engaging FA Cup clash at Claines Lane.
  • Substitute Marco Adaggio’s shot bobbled off the inside of the upright during the dying embers of a game with plenty of talking points, not least the sending off of both managers – City’s Ashley Vincent and Boro’s Jody Banim – over a confrontation as they walked towards the dressing rooms at half-time.
  • It was a wholehearted display from Vincent’s men but the two-tier gap proved a little too difficult to bridge in the key moments, despite going toe-to-toe with Stafford for much of the match.
  • Sean Brain controversially put City in front, darting past his man to reach Jamie Smith’s raking cross-field pass to nudge past keeper Lewis King who had ventured from his box to challenge the nippy frontman.
  • King claimed Brain had handled en route to the open goal but it stood to hand City a 17th-minute lead.
  • In truth, that seemed to jolt Rangers into life, Jamie Sleigh having to be denied by a last-ditch Craig Jones challenge within a minute of the restart, and crisp passing and a series of crosses forced City on to the back foot, playing a part in forcing the error that led to the leveller.
  • Ryan Winwood got caught in possession by Joe Kenton who surged in rom the right and drove a shot that skipped off the turf before nestling right in the bottom far corner of Dan Jezeph’s goal.
  • Stafford then led four minutes later with Tom Turton unable to quite cut out Callum Coyle’s ball to early substitute Joe Cuff who finished with certainty.
  • City howled for a penalty for handball on the stroke of half-time but it was Banim who led the questioning of referee Neil Pratt at half-time with Vincent waiting in the wings to have his say.
  • There was then a flashpoint between the two gaffers as they headed towards the exit in the corner. No blows were traded but they put their heads together while exchanging words and that was enough for the man in the middle to issue straight red cards to both.
  • City started the second half well but Boro might have doubled their lead if Sleigh had taken an extra touch with enough time and space to compose himself after ex-City left-back Cieron Keane had parted the defence with a beautifully-weighted ball.
  • Despite playing up the hill, City built up a head of steam and levelled when Turton’s inswinging corner was flicked towards goal by Luke English for Aaron Roberts to bludgeon in at the far post in the 57th minute.
  • Stafford again went close within a minute of conceding, Sam Coulson a fraction away from converting a driven free-kick from the right only for Jezeph to get a vital touch.
  • Andy Nicol forced a fine one-handed stop from King with Jones getting caught slightly under the ball when meeting the corner that followed but Stafford again found an extra gear and enjoyed another spell of pressure that told in the end.
  • That man Cuff smacked an unerring shot into the net to swing the pendulum once more and they looked like adding to that only for Jezeph to pull off a stunning stop from Sleigh at point-blank range,
  • City still refused to lie down, though, and the most patient move of the match came amid the hurly burly of the finish, Jones picking out Adaggio to wriggle free and scuff the far upright to the gasps of the home fans hoping to suck it into the net.
  • Brain had a free header from a corner in added time but planted it downwards, making it easier for King to gather and that was it for City’s FA Cup adventure.
  • Stafford might have warranted edging through – just – but there was no disgrace in defeat for City.