GAINSBOROUGH Trinity stopped their run of defeats with a draw today on the Northolme, but it could have been so much better for the Blues.
With the hosts 2-1 up, Paul Mayo’s stumble in the rain put Tyree Clarke through to square for Levi Reid’s equaliser, but Trinity supporters can be pleased with a much improved team performance and result.
Stafford started brightest on a leaden surface, and it took the visitors just seven minutes to get the break through. A drilled corner from the right found the unmarked Niall Maguire, and the midfielder’s header squirmed into the Trinity net at the near post past the returning Phil Barnes.
Both sides took a while to settle into a rhythm after the early goal, but Trinity soon began playing with a sense of urgency that has been lacking in recent weeks. A skidding Josh Davies free-kick forced Lee Evans in the Stafford goal into his first real save, signalling the start of a sustained period of Trinity dominance.
Ryan Williams looked every bit the player he was in his first spell at the club, twice firing narrowly past the foot of the Rangers post, and just moments before half time the Blues got the goal their play deserved. Kendall’s long range shot was spilled by Lee Evans, who subsequently brought down Leon Mettam for a clear penalty. Lewis McMahon stepped up to take the spot-kick, firing home powerfully past the outstretched palm of Evans.
Trinity started the second half as they finished the first, and were rewarded on 52 minutes through a Nathan Peat screamer. The Stafford defence failed to clear after some good build-up play by Mettam, and Peat found himself with plenty of space and time to lace the ball past Evans from a full 25 yards.
The Blues were playing some of their best football of the Brian Little era, but the heavy Northolme pitch cost them dear just after the hour mark as Mayo’s slip led to the 64th minute equalizer.
With a relegation battle looming, neither side seemed ready to settle for a point. Trinity could have re-taken the lead - Kendall only denied by a headed clearance from Craig Reid – while Rangers rattled the base of Barnes’ post through Clarke.
With the end of the game in sight, Mayo’s nightmare day went from bad to worse as he received two yellow cards in five minutes leading to his marching orders. The resulting free-kick drew a brilliant diving stop from Barnes from the head of his own centre half Andrew Boyce, but neither side could press on for a late winner.
Trinity: Barnes, Mayo, Peat, Cowan, Waterfall, Boyce, Davies, Williams, Kendall McMahon (Aiston 72), Mettam (Greaves 85) Subs; Beckett, Spafford, Ward
Stafford; Evans, Naylor (Benjamin), C. Reid, Johnson, McAughtrie, L. Reid, Adaggio (Keen 75), Maguire, Mills, Clarke, Edward