Stafford Rangers 0 Boston United 4: Miller and Weir-Daley at the double

Indy Aujla.
Indy Aujla.

Spencer Weir-Daley and Ricky Miller both netted braces as Boston United eased past Stafford Rangers in the FA Cup second qualifying round.

The hosts are a division below the Pilgrims in the footballing ladder. But on Saturday afternoon, the gulf looked far greater as Boston dominated from start to finish.

United suffered two setbacks before kick off, with both Marc Newsham and Scott Garner ruled out due to injury.

After 74 consecutive starts for the Pilgrims - in which he netted 46 goals - the club’s leading marksman missed out due to a knee injury.

Meanwhile, defender Garner was sidelined due to a gash on his head, picked up in the midweek defeat to Bradford Park Avenue.

Midfielder Indy Aujla, who signed in midweek, was named among the substitutes.

The first chance of the contest fell to Stafford’s Dan Quinn, but with just Ashley Timms to beat he panicked and rifled his effort terribly off target.

The pace of Miller and Ben Fairclough - making his first start of the season - were causing the Rangers back line plenty of early problems, and it took just 18 minutes for the visitors to open the scoring.

Moments after seeing a low drive held by Jon Brain, Ben Milnes set up Miller with delightful through ball.

The forward still had plenty to do, but he had the legs to beat Rangers defender Lucan Spittle, and the feet to place the ball beyond Brain.

Spencer Weir-Daley then doubled the advantage with a 29th-minute penalty - his 60th goal on his 150th appearance.

Miller was upended by Michael Carr, and with no Newsham, Weir-Daley assumed spot kick duties, driving his effort down the middle of the goal.

Stafford lost their first seven matches of the season but, prior to Boston’s arrival, had turned things around and had gone five unbeaten.

At times, the Stafford defensive line looked as if they had reverted back to type, sometimes resembling four drunks staggering home from the pub rather than a unit of well-drilled footballers.

But Boston can take credit for much of that, as their pace and trickery caused regular problems.

Before the interval, the Pilgrims should have been comfortably in the hat for the next round, and with manager Dennis Greene contemplating where to splash the £4,500 prize money.

However, Brain did well to deny drives from both Fairclough and Miller, while Milnes saw a 20-yarder fly inches over the bar.

At the other end, Darren Bullock’s speculative header saw Ashley Timms forced into tipping the ball away from danger.

At half time Aujla was handed his debut, replacing Conor Marshall. And four minutes later Peter Bore - injured after a bad fall - was replaced by James Reed, Aujla slipping into right back.

Netan Sansara almost edged United further ahead, but Brain did well to parry his powerful strike, before Carl Piergianni headed Ian Ross’ corner over.

Meanwhile, Rangers’ Jermain Johnson saw an acrobatic volley fail to find the target in a rare foray forward for the hosts.

Weir-Daley then grabbed his second of the afternoon in the 66th minute.

Clever contraol and a powerful 16-yard strike proved too much for Brain, whose outstretched palm couldn’t prevent the ball nestling into the top corner.

And then, with 10 minutes remaining, it was 4-0. Miller grabbed his second of the afternoon with a neatly guided low strike from close range, after a spell of pressure from the Pilgrims.

With Boston looking comfortable, manager Dennis Greene decided to raise a few eyebrows by replacing keeper Timms with 17-year-old Sam Vince.

But it was more of the same, with United dominating and Sansara next to try his luck but rattling the woodwork.

Miller almost grabbed his hat-trick at the death, but Spittle hacked his strike off the goal line.

Not done, Ross then saw a powerful 25-yarder fizz over.

United were comfortable and have booked their place in the third qualifying round.

Job done.

STAFFORD: Brain, Carr, Brown, Spittle, Bullock, Dacres, McCarthy (Cope 84), Flynn, Quinn (Sheldon 73), Kinsella (Johnson HT), Steadman; Subs (not used): Langston, Alcock.

UNITED: Timms (Vince 80), Bore (Reed 49), Sansara, Marshall (Aujla HT), Galinksi, Piergianni, Ross, Milnes, Miller, Fairclough, Weir-Daley; Subs (not used): Dongo, Price.

Ref: Anthony Tankard.

Att: 519.