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Stafford Rangers FC 0 Chasetown FC 4

In County Cup ties, one of the most obvious factors is often the gulf in playing standards between two sides from different leagues.  But not this time.

Chasetown FC were on top throughout in this Staffordshire Senior Cup quarter final at Stafford Rangers, and despite their Blue Square North opponents being two leagues higher in the pyramid the Scholars were totally dominant throughout the first half and remained on top for much of the second.

Despite missing the cup-tied Ramone Stephens and the injured Richard Teesdale and Dave Egan and also losing early scorer Duncan Horler with a suspected broken nose, Chasetown displayed some of their best football shown this season with welcome returnee Grant Ryan and Gary Hay leading the attack.

An early free kick for the home side out on the left flew straight to keeper Ryan Price before the action swung the other way with Hay sending a shot wide from 15 yards.

This set the tone for a lively opening to the tie.  Horler fired high over the bar before Fabrice Kasiama set up Michael Burns to drive a low shot which Price gathered at the second attempt, and the Scholars keeper was able to push away an attempt from Warwick Alexander allowing his defence to clear.

Vaughan Thomas and Ross Miller then had to be alert to halt an attack by home skipper Nick Wellecomme in the tenth minute before Horler’s low shot under pressure went inches wide of the far post as the fast-paced start continued.

Ryan was next to go close, firing over from Mark Branch’s free kick on 15 minutes before the action moved to the other end again, Kasiama’s excellent turn and shot clipping the bar on its way over.  Horler then went close yet again only to be denied by former Scholars keeper Lee Evans.

On 28 minutes a Mark Branch corner saw Hay and Ryan both have shots blocked on the line but Horler’s effort was successful through a mass of defenders and the Scholars were in front.

Six minutes later Horler was involved again as he was fouled in the area by Craig McAughtrie and Ryan stepped up to smash the penalty kick past Evans for his first goal since returning to the Scholars fold.

The lead was increased further just before half time as a free kick from the left was headed down by Ben Steane and Ryan was on hand to fire in his second and Chasetown’s third.

Claims for a penalty for the hosts began the second half after Levi Reid was brought down on the edge of the area, but these were unheeded and the free kick was blasted over the bar by Tom Thorley.

Horler then departed after taking a knock to his face and was replaced by Danny Smith on 57 minutes, while the hosts began to fight back with Kasiama firing across the face of goal and Reid being denied by the Chasetown defence.

Steane’s long range effort on 72 minutes went just wide of Evans’s near post as the Scholars kept up the pace, Gary Birch joining the attack in the closing minutes in place of Ryan.

In the closing seconds a move down the left allowed Smith an opportunity but his shot was blocked and Hay was on hand to lash home the rebound and put the lid on a great night for the Scholars.

Assistant manager Andy Cox looked forward to Chasetown’s clash with Leek Town on Saturday (Februry 20th), but admitted:

“If I could swap tonight’s performance with three points on Saturday, I would.”

The victory sets Chasetown up for a visit to Newcastle Town, who were 6-0 winners over Rocester on the same evening, in the semi-finals.

Stafford: Evans, Francis, Vauls, Thorley, Udoji, McAughtrie, Reid, Burns, Wellecomme (c), Alexander, Kasiama.  Subs: Lloyd (Udoji 66), Dinning, Rogers (Reid 74), Brindley, Whitehouse.
Chasetown: Price, Miller, M Branch, Slater, Saunders, Thomas, Steane, J Branch (c), Hay, Ryan, Horler.  Subs: Smith (Horler 57), Birch (Ryan 80), Embrey (Steane 74), Horton, Birt.

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