TWO new faces and a change in formation failed to save Worksop Town from their third successive defeat on Saturday, as defensive errors cost dearly once again.
Tom Denton, a 6ft 5ins striker, came in up front, while Kern Miller was in the middle of a back five, behind two midfielders and three forwards.
But slack marking, a horrible mix-up and a clumsy challenge in the box handed Stafford Rangers three points at Sandy Lane.
Denton’s height is a new asset for Tigers, and they put it to good use early with a free-kick that he nodded down to Steve Towers, the midfielder spooning his volley over the bar.
On seven minutes Denton got in the way as Miller headed towards the Rangers goal from a corner, deflecting the ball away from goal instead of towards it.
Seconds later disaster struck at the other end, Rangers breaking and cutting Tigers open before a low cross was sidefooted home by a poorly marked Michael Carr.
It wasn’t the start Worksop wanted, and Paul Bastock vented his fury at centre-back Miller before blasting the ball into the goal, just missing a Rangers player and earning a talking to from the referee.
An audacious volley from Peter Heler, the man who set up Stafford’s first, just about cleared Bastock’s crossbar with the keeper well beaten on 13 minutes.
Some nice football from Tigers gave the home suppporters something to applaud, the move ending in a Lee Beeson cross that wasn’t a million miles away from the front post.
Danny Quinn should have punished Worksop when they went from attack to defence through sloppy play and the striker had the chance to chip Bastock but shot low and the keeper saved.
The officials denied Worksop an equaliser when a perfectly timed pass from Steve Towers put Mettam clean through, but despite being level when the ball was played, the striker was flagged for offside.
Stafford’s Ryan Brown received the game’s first yellow for cutting Beeson down on the wing, and when the wide man’s free-kick came in Denton headed well over from a few yards.
At the other end Bastock came to the rescue when Hawes was beaten for pace and Luke Bottomer fired low at goal from an acute angle.
Denton’s physicality was proving troublesome for Rangers, who reverted to fouling him and giving away a free-kick 25 yards out. Beeson lined up the set-piece but curled the ball onto the roof of the net.
Four minutes from the break Mettam was ruled onside as he tapped home for 1-1, much to the disgust of the visitors.
Owain Warlow’s great first touch released Towers into the box, he drove past one and squared to the unmarked Mettam and he levelled the game.
Ryan Dicker’s protests resulted in a yellow for the right-back, as Tigers celebrated.
Things got even better on the stroke of half-time, Wood sending Mettam clear down the right and he floated a perfect ball to the back post where Denton nodded past Adam Allcock to delight the supporters behind the goal.
Debutant Denton went on to make a nuisance of himself at both ends in the early stages of the second half, winning attacking free-kicks and heading clear from Stafford set-pieces.
But a shocking mix-up between Miller and Bastock gifted Stafford an equaliser on 62 minutes, the keeper coming for a cross, the defender getting in his way and substitute Karl Espley headed into the empty net.
With the momentum shifting back towards Rangers, Denton saw yellow for what the referee saw as the last in a series of fouls.
There was a sigh of relief around Sandy Lane when the man in black then said no to Quinn’s penalty appeals, after going down over Hawes’ leg.
That Rangers attack had come about while Beeson was down injured at the other end, and he was unable to recover, Craig King taking his place.
Worksop had no sooner reverted to a 4-4-2 system that they conceded a third.
A throw in from the left saw Quinn turn Hawes, the defender dragged him down and the referee quite rightly pointed to the spot.
Quinn got up, took the kick and found the top right hand corner for 3-2 with 10 minutes left.
Massiah McDonald was given a run out with four minutes remaining, taking the place of Warlow on the left.
Having failed to create anything in the way of a clear cut chance since the second goal, Worksop came forward late on through Towers who shot straight at Allcock.
The midfielder then had another effort blocked when McDonald slid it back to him in the box.
A bad looking injury to Luke George caused a delay as time went into the red, the young defender helped off the pitch by team-mates.
Worksop finally had an opportunity to level when McDonald skinned three on the left, fed Young and he shaped to shoot but put the ball well wide of the far post.
Worksop: Bastock 5, Clarke 6, Warlow 4 (McDonald 86), Wood 7, Hawes 5, Miller 5, Young 5, Towers 6, DENTON 7, Mettam 5, Beeson 5 (King 75). Not used: Telling, Menga, Holden.
Stafford Rangers: Allcock, George (Forde 90), Brown, Walshe, Dicker (Espley 52), Carr, Heler (Newman 90), Downes, Quinn, Bottomer, Pitt. Not used: Street, Davies.
Referee: W. Grunnill. Assistants: D. McGinley, G. Wilkin.
Goalscorers: Mettam 41, Denton 45; Carr 7, Espley 62, Quinn 80 (pen).
Yellows: Denton 68; Brown 31, Dicker 41, Quinn 55.