Matlock Town host Stafford Rangers in their first home game of the 2020/21 NPL Premier Division league campaign on Saturday.

The Gladiators lost on the opening day of the league season in a disappointing performance away at Bamber Bridge but did put in a much improved display to knock out Quorn in the FA Cup last Tuesday.

The Opposition

Stafford Rangers are one of the most well-established non-league clubs in the country. They were formed all the way back in 1876 and play their home games at Marston Road which can hold up to 4,000 spectators with a seated capacity of 530.

The club’s manager is Jody Banim. Banim replaced the joint leadership of Alex Meechan and Andy Fearn in May after the 2019/2020 league campaign was officially null and voided. Stafford Rangers were one of the clubs to hugely benefit from the decision to null and void the 2019/20 NPL Premier Division league season. At the time that the decision was confirmed, Rangers occupied bottom place in the league standings and were staring relegation in the face after winning only four league games out of thirty-three with every team around the relegation zone having games in hand on them.

Stafford Rangers have played two competitive games so far this season. On September 19th, Rangers lost their opening game of the league campaign 1-0 at home to Ashton United. On September 23rd, they bounced back with a victory over Worcester City away from home in the FA Cup First Qualifying Round. Rangers won the tie 3-2 thanks to two goals from Joe Cuff and a goal from Joseph Kenton.

The club have had some notable managers and players in its history. In 2008, former England striker and Wolverhampton Wanderers legend Steve Bull had a short stint in charge at the club. From 2010 to 2011, Premier League winner and former England goalkeeper Tim Flowers managed the side. He was replaced by the former Scotland player and League Cup winner Matt Elliott. On the playing side, former Liverpool, Aston Villa and England striker Stan Collymore made thirty-five league appearances for Stafford Rangers right at the start of his career.

Stafford Rangers are two-time winners of the FA Trophy. They won the competition in 1972 and 1979. They’ve also won the NPL Premier Division league title on two occasions. The first time happened in 1972 and the second came in 1985. Their best FA Cup run came in the 1974-75 season when they managed to make it to the 4th Round. Although the club have never played in the Football League, they have had experience of playing in the fifth tier which is the highest tier of non-league football in England.

One to Watch

John Welsh is a midfielder to keep an eye on in today’s game. The 36 year-old started his playing career at Liverpool where he made four Premier League appearances. Welsh also has international experience. Between 2004 and 2007, the midfielder made eight England U21 appearances and scored one goal.

After his time at Liverpool ended, Welsh went on to play for the likes of Hull City, Tranmere Rovers and Preston North End. In 2015, Welsh was part of the Preston North End squad that won the League One play-offs trophy. Welsh has experience of playing in each of the top four tiers of English football

Last season, Welsh experienced playing in the NPL Premier Division for the first time in his career. He made nineteen league appearances for Atherton Collieries.

Team News

Jon Stewart, Callum Chippendale, Nathan Whitehead, Nathan Valentine and Craig King remain on the injury list and will not be available for today’s game.

Previous Meeting

Matlock Town and Stafford Rangers last played each other on August 24th last year at Marston Road in front of a crowd of 486.

The Gladiators won the league encounter 1-0 thanks to an 80th minute goal from Marcus Marshall.

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