Charlie Blakemore’s final match as manager of Chasetown FC ended in a 1-0 defeat to local Evo-Stik Premier rivals Stafford Rangers.
The Scholars struggled to create chances against a determined Rangers side who overcame early injury setbacks to take the three points thanks to substitute Neville Thompson’s 40th minute strike and spoil Blakemore’s party.
Blakemore led the teams out to rapturous applause for his last game before joining the board of directors, hut it was the visitors who had the first chance on four minutes when a Jimmy Turner clearance rebounded off an attacker and Peter Heler headed wide facing an open goal.
Stafford suffered two early blows with Michael Morton and skipper Paul Donnelly departing injured inside the first half hour, but they continued to restrict Chasetown’s chances although Ben Jevons went close and Dean Perrow forced on-loan Port Vale keeper Sam Johnson into a full-stretch save on 30 minutes.
Ryan Price then pushed a Sean Kinsella free kick onto the crossbar before holding onto a shot from Dan Skelton, but on 40 minutes he was powerless to stop Thompson’s left-footed shot and the Rangers were ahead going into the break despite a Jevons effort in stoppage time.
Turner, Matty Cohen and Ramone Stephens all enjoyed chances for the Scholars in the second half, but it was Stafford who had the ball in the net on 56 minutes but the goal was disallowed for offside.
Johnson was in great form between the sticks for the Rangers and kept out further efforts from Danny Smith and Stephens, while Price denied Kevin Street by pushing his shot just over the bar.
Stafford continued to work hard to hold out the Scholars and chances were kept to a minimum, Jevons going close with a header in the closing stages, while Richard Teesdale was once again holding firm at the heart of the Scholars defence.
With two minutes to go Chasetown substitute Theo Robinson was shown the red card for bringing down Liam Shotton in the area but Stafford striker Kinsella blazed the resulting penalty over the bar.
Chasetown now turn their attention to the Staffordshire Senior Cup with a visit to Heath Hayes tomorrow (October 18), kick-off 7.45pm, with Chris Brindley taking charge of the Scholars for the first time.
Chasetown: Price, Turner, M Branch, Slater, Cohen, Teesdale (c), Stephens, Jevons, Birch, Perrow, Smith. Subs: Dovey (Perrow 60), Peel, Farmer (Cohen 73), Melbourne, Robinson (Stephens 73).
Stafford: Johnson, Donnelly (c), White, Espley, Dicker, Morton, Heler, Street, Shotton, Kinsella, Skelton. Subs: Thompson (Morton 11), Nagington, Sheldon (Dicker 45), Jones (Donnelly 22), Alcock.