Stafford Rangers 5

Kendal Town 1

Evo-Stik Premier Division

A NEW-look and extremely youthful Kendal Town side came away from this game with a lot of credit despite losing 5-1 in manager Steve Edmondson’s first game in charge.

With the Black and Whites having not played for a month and six players making their debut, the match had an air of being a pre-season friendly as Edmondson got to grips with how his new side would gel.

Despite looking frail defensively, Kendal looked dangerous going forward and they almost took the lead in the first minute when Maison McGeechan’s long throw evaded everybody in the box apart from striker Zach Clark, whose shot was well collected by Stafford keeper Adam Alcock.

But with three minutes gone, the Marston Road outfit won a penalty when Alex Ralph was adjudged to have fouled the impressive Michael Carr in the area. Danny Quinn sent newly-crowned Kendal captain Craig Dootson the wrong way to give his side the lead.

McGeechan in particular looked a threat down Town’s left hand side, while Martin Grundy had a solid game in front of the back four, a quickly-taken free kick of his in the 11th minute failing to pan out after Alcock closed Clark down.

But Stafford took advantage of the inexperienced Kendal defence by doubling their lead in the 17th minute. Jimmy Turner’s free kick was flicked on by two headers, and as Kendal tried to clear with a header of their own, the ball fell nicely for Carr to slot home inside the box as Rangers made it 2-0.

Another Kendal debutant Jordan Armstrong hit a shot over the bar four minutes later but Stafford began stamping their authority on the game from the half hour mark, Dootson making a fabulous save from a Quinn header after the assistant raised his flag for the striker being offside.

On 34 minutes it was 3-0 as Quinn got the better of Kendal centre backs Jordan Tucker and Danny McGahon, and he threaded the ball perfectly for Karl Ashton, who with time and space inside the box tucked the ball under Dootson.

Set-piece specialist Turner hit the side-netting for Rangers just before half time as the Mintcakes went into the interval 3-0 down.

Town came out for the second half fired up, Clark causing a mix-up among Stafford defenders Oliver Davies and Luke George from a long ball, but one of the defenders was able to recover to block the former Ambleside United striker’s shot inside the area.

Three minutes later Davies hit the post for Stafford when he found space in the Kendal box, and luckily for the Black and Whites the ball rebounded straight into the arms of a grateful Dootson.

Clark couldn’t get his shot away after good work from Simon Rawnsley saw the Kendal striker with a chance in the 55th minute, while centre back Danny McGahon made a terrific tackle in his own box to thwart a golden opportunity for the lively Rangers winger Fabrice Kasiama.

Kendal continued to work hard and the second half was more of an even affair, so it was unlucky that Kendal went 4-0 down after a Turner long ball found Ashton in the box. He took it past Dootson and slotted home his second goal of the game.

Substitute Ben Fishwick had a screaming 25-yarder well saved by Adam Alcock in the Stafford goal on 74 minutes, and Clark’s shot into the side-netting after Alcock fumbled a corner epitomised Town’s never-say-die attitude.

With four minutes left on the clock the Parkside Road outfit got the goal they deserved. A great ball was played to Clark, who took the ball around the keeper and placed his shot towards the open goal. Rawnsley backed up his strike partner by driving the ball into the net on the line under the attention of a Stafford defender to ensure that he didn’t clear the ball away, and the visitors reduced their arrears to 4-1.

With the last kick of the game, Kasiama got a deserved goal after a mistake by Liam Shields put the winger through one-on-one with Dootson. He rounded his side’s performance off by striking the ball under Kendal’s captain to hand out a 5-1 defeat for Town in Edmondson’s first game in charge as manager.

Meanwhile Kendal Town’s Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy quarter final against Southport this Tuesday night has been called off.

Southport drew 1-1 with Stockport County in the FA Carlsberg Trophy today (Saturday), which means the replay will take place this Tuesday.

Kendal’s next match is on Saturday when the Black and Whites entertain Rushall Olympic in what will be Edmondson’s first home game as manager.

Stafford Rangers

Alcock, Turner, Davies, Walshe, George, Dacres, Carr, Downes (c) (Heler 77), Ashton, Quinn (Brown 81), Kasiama.

Subs not used: Reid, Kinsella, Read.

Yellow cards: None

Kendal Town

Craig Dootson (c), Danny McGahon, Alex Ralph, Martin Grundy, Dean Overson, Jordan Tucker, Jack Cook, Jordan Armstrong, Simon Rawnsley, Zach Clark, Maison McGeechan.

Subs: Mike Rushton for Armstrong (57), Ben Fishwick for Cook (70), Liam Shields for Tucker (83).

Subs not used: Marly Gough, Alec Hague.

Yellow cards: Maison McGeechan, Danny McGahon.

Star man: Maison McGeechan - The tricky winger caused real headaches for Stafford with his runs on the left hand side and he played some lovely crosses into the box - he looks set to be a real asset for Kendal Town.

Attendance: 364