Youngster, Kyle Simpson was again amongst the substitutes as Trinity sought a return to winning ways. A nervy first half from both sides saw Stafford take the first two real chances that came their way. Another harshly awarded penalty against the Blues, this time for a Hamish Douglas handball, gave Rangers all the incentive they needed. Kaiman Anderson stepping up to calmly tuck his penalty out of reach of the diving Bottomley, the on loan Doncaster Rovers' keeper guessing right, but the strike right into the corner had the 'keeper beaten.
Tyreece Onyeka doubled the advantage for the home side, seven minutes later. Anderson split open the Gainsborough defence all too easily. Despite a poor first touch, and losing his balance momentarily- Onyeka was able to regain his composure and plant a low effort across Bottomley to put Stafford in control. Boro had their tails up, but all too often, were first to the ball, strong, compact and organised. Wilcox's men were not being given any real time to settle into a rhythm. And as tackles flew in from both sides, the Referee did his best to let both teams go at it.
Half Time: Stafford Rangers 2 Gainsborough Trinity 0
Declan Howe had cut an isolated figure in the first half and at the break, boss Russ Wilcox looked to shake things up as he shuffled his pack and introduced Simpson and Tom Parkinson to the action. Hamish Douglas and Daniel Devine the two replaced as the Boss highlighted a weakness in the wide areas, to try and exploit. the substitutes worked hard, but ultimately yielded little joy, as the hosts added two more to their tally in the second period, to pick up only their second win at home this season.
Anderson made it three, lifting high into the roof of the net after good play by Onyeka down the right. The winger getting to the byline before cutting back to Anderson - who found space with a clever run across the near post, punishing Trinity again. And when skipper Dylan Cogill came off second best in a 50/50 in his own penalty area, Sam Bird finished confidently past Bottomley, to make it four. The Blues were well and truly wounded. Sean Cooke had the chance to make it five for Stafford, but he floated his free kick up and over the wall, but the wrong side of the upright for the home side.
Cogill and Howe the two for Trinity that came closest to registering what would have been a consolation. Howe doing brilliantly to create space in the penalty area, as Bobby Johnson carved open the Rangers' defence, but the usually deadly striker took a moment too long and saw his effort blocked by the enrushing Belford between the sticks. Belford was again called into action as Cogill rose highest to glance a header goalwards, but springing across his line, Belford kept his clean sheet intact. Holding on at the second attempt and snuffing out the danger.
Injury ravaged, and in need of reinforcements, Russ Wilcox's men limped through to the end of 2023, but will be hopeful of additions as we turn our attentions to 2024, the second half of the season, and the visit of Worksop Town, to the Kal Group Stadium. The 3pm kick off on New Years' Day, will be no easy task for the group, but with a bumper crowd likely, for the A57 derby fixture, there will be plenty to play for!
Stafford Rangers: Cameron Belford, Andy Burns, Ben Woods, Joe Wills, Ethan Stewart, Jake Moult, Tyreece Onyeka (AJ Leitch-Smith 89) Sam Bird, Kaiman Anderson (Niah Payne 89) Sean Cooke, Connor Heath (Ethan Morgan 89). Subs not used: Nathan Blissett and Derek Ubah.
Gainsborough Trinity: Ben Bottomley, George Hornshaw. Ashley Jackson, Bailey Conway, Hamish Douglas (Kyle Simpson 46) Dylan Cogill, Lewis Butroid, Bobby Johnson, Daniel Devine (Tom Parkinson 46) Declan Howe (Joel Holvey 81) Jack Moore-Billam. Subs not used: Fraser Preston and Nat Wallace.
Stafford Goals: Anderson 31 (pen), Onyeka (38), Anderson (63), Bird (77)