Vauxhall Motors 1, Stafford Rangers 3: IN a match that was always going to be tough against the clear league leaders, Vauxhall showed hope for Friday night's must-win game at Leigh RMI with good play on a blustery night at Rivacre Park, writes Andy Wilson.
Both sides started brightly before neat interplay from Rangers saw Neil Grayson fire in a shot deflected over for a corner from which Vauxhall broke down the field and a Robbie Lawton cross was met by Mark Smyth, whose first-time shot went wide. Smyth again came close when his header was well saved by Dean Williams.
Stafford then came to life and Grayson, a thorn in the Motors' defence, forced Tim Dittmer into a smart save.
But after 33 minutes the visitors took the lead when Paul Groves crossed from the right for Grayson to glance a header past the advancing Dittmer.
Stafford could have made it 2-0 seven minutes later when Peter Thomson forced an excellent save from Dittmer. But just before half time Vauxhall levelled when Brian Moogan's free kick was not cleared and the ball fell to Wayne McDermott who fired in a fierce shot.
The referee adjudged that Craig McAughtrie had handled the ball and Thomas Rooney stepped up to stroke home the penalty.
The second half was a scrappy affair before a 54th-minute free-kick by Kevin Street was met by the head of Groves who looped the ball over Dittmer into the net.
The Motormen continued to try and play but Stafford seemed content with consolidating their lead. Indeed, there were not any more chances until the 79th minute when McDermott had to head over his own bar from a Street cross.
But in the final minute Stafford applied the killer touch. Robin Gibson found himself on his own and lifted the ball over the advancing Dittmer. Brazier made it to the ball but his studs stuck in the turf, Gibson collected and slid the ball into the net.
Vauxhall: Dittmer, Moogan, McDermott, Brazier, McNulty, Glendenning (O'Donnell 73), Garrity, Rooney, Smyth (Cumiskey 76), Lawton, Lawless (Martindale 80). Subs not used: Duffy, Field. nVauxhall were last night presented with the FA Charter Standard Community Club Award.
The Conference North club received the honour from Terry Harrop, Frank Robinson and George Calveley before the home clash with table-topping Stafford Rangers.
The Motormen have been chosen to receive the award in recognition of the years of work that has been achieved by all the youth, junior and ladies' coaches behind the scenes at the club.