Staffordshire FA Senior Cup: Stafford Rangers 3 Rushall Olympic 0 - Report and pictures
Stafford Rangers retained the Staffordshire FA Senior Cup with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Rushall Olympic at Stoke City’s bet365 Stadium.
Alex Meechan and Andy Fearn’s side were in command for the vast majority of this final of seventh-tier teams, with Dan Burns opening the scoring early on and Jake Charles at the double.
The effort of Liam McDonald’s Pics could not be faulted, but they were undone by Boro’s ruthlessness at both ends of the pitch.
It is the first time they have successfully defended the crown since 1973, and their 13th competition triumph.
Rangers, who ended the Northern Premier season by beating Matlock Town 4-1 at home this past weekend, started the stronger of the two teams. Andrew Haworth and former Wolves man Matt Hill were linking up nicely on the left-hand side, doubling up on Tyler Lyttle - son of ex-Albion star Des.
And it did not take them long to go in front. Howarth’s floated corner was met by skipper Luke Jones. He headed it to centre-half partner Burns, leaving him the simple task of nodding in from a few yards with just 17 minutes on the clock.
Rushall - fresh from finishing eighth in the Southern Central - continued to be pegged back as well. In fact, Jones nearly went from provider to scorer as his powerful header flew over the bar.
The Pics had a moment to catch their breath and reassess as Jack Sherratt picked up a booking for a late lunge on Simeon Maye.
But they continued to be second best. Sherratt almost doubled Rangers’ advantage with some fancy footwork and a low strike, before Charles managed to get another for them.
Tom Thorley’s driven effort from the edge of the area was kept out by Ben Newey, with Boro’s No.9 reacting fastest and poking home the rebound. That second goal for Meechan and Fearn’s charges was thoroughly deserved, given the confidence they had shown going forward.
Rushall could have replied before half-time against the run of play, but Lyttle took too long to get his shot away and Rangers cleared.
McDonald needed more from his men in the second period, and he made a change for the start of it as Ben Lund replaced Brian Smikle. An attempt to give the Pics a greater attacking threat.
They had a spell of prolonged possession, but Boro’s Charles was the one who carried on shining in the final third with talent and tenacity in equal measure.
He grabbed his second of the night as his header from near the penalty spot took a wicked deflection off Rushall captain Orrin Pendley, leaving Newey helpless.
Former Rangers striker Massiah McDonald entered the fray as the Pics looked to embark on a miraculous comeback, but such was Boro’s dominance, chants of ‘Ole’ came from their proud fans.
Rushall had a go in the final 10 minutes and Rangers kept their cool, with Andrai Jones particularly composed in the middle of the park.
Both teams then made their permitted substitutions as Boro cruised to victory and joyously lifted the trophy.
Rangers (4-5-1): Siviter; Coulson (Green, 80), L Jones (c), Burns, Hill; Bailey-Jones (Briscoe, 90), A Jones, Sherratt, Thorley, Haworth; Charles (Mills, 82)
Subs not used: Cuff, Arber
Rushall (3-5-2): Newey; Hull (M McDonald, 63), Pendley (c), Adelakan; Lyttle, Smith, Maye, O’Callaghan, Smikle (Lund, 46); Sammons (Soleman, 84), Waldron
Subs not used: Berry
Wolves ace Matt Doherty has Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy's backing for crunch Euro 2020 qualifying clash with Denmark