THAT Stafford Rangers’ goal arrived late literally, in Witton Albion’s case, added insult to injury.

Carl Macauley’s men were not all still standing by the time Paul Bignot’s low shot deflected off a defender and out of the reach of goalkeeper Greg Hall.

One of them, Danny McKenna, did not make the first whistle despite warming up with his teammates.

Another, Matty Devine, left the field nursing a suspected dislocated shoulder.

A third, wing man Osebi Abadaki, remained on his feet but could not use them to run after straining a groin muscle.

Their struggles were made more acute by the fact Witton could name only one substitute, untested teenager Owen Wynne, because of an already-lengthy list of absentees.

All of them, except River Humphreys who was ruled out by work commitments, were injured too.

It is remarkable then that they were better than their guests for the most part and appeared on course to record an eighth 1-0 win of the campaign when the contest entered added time.

They were not beaten, Bignot’s strike was an equaliser, but it will have felt like a loss when the game ended.

Witton had started brightly, and Abadaki’s powerful drive from an angle stung the palms of goalkeeper Adam Siviter.

Will Jones then hammered the loose ball even more forcefully against Stafford skipper Luke Jones.

Albion ought to have taken the lead 60 seconds later after Tom Owens and Rob Hopley combined with a slick one-two that put the midfielder clear.

However he fired straight at Siviter.

The hosts did not have complete control though, and Luke Jones forced Hall to scramble to his right when he connected with a corner.

A breakthrough arrived on 43 minutes when Ben Harrison, making his first appearance since completing a temporary move from Altrincham on Monday, steered in Josh Wardle’s cross.

His previous goal in Albion’s colours had been more than five years earlier.

Stafford enjoyed more possession after the interval, and Tom Thorley’s strike was pushed around an upright by Hall.

They could not run up a head of steam though, even after Devine’s exit forced Albion to reshuffle a line-up disrupted already by McKenna’s withdrawal.

Matt Hill’s shot was fielded by Hall before Thorley fluffed a free-kick from a promising position.

Witton appealed for a penalty when Owens tumbled under the weight of substitute Peter Williams’ challenge but referee Nik Storey wasn’t persuaded it was a foul.

Another Boro replacement, Joe Cuff, was wasteful when he dragged wide but Bignot was more accurate.

The fact Albion thought they’d held out made it the most painful blow of all.

Witton | 4-4-2 | Hall (GK), Cesaire, Harrison, Wardle, Devine (Wynne 67), Abadaki, Smart, Owens, Foley, Hopley, Jones Subs not used none Goal Harrison 43 Booked Smart (foul)

Stafford | 4-5-1 | Siviter (GK), Bignot, Burns, Luke Jones, Hill, Bailey-Jones, Thorley, Andrai Jones (Cuff 56), Sherratt (Williams 63), Haworth (Mills 56), Charles Subs not used Thandi, Briscoe Goal Bignot 90 (+3)

Referee Nik Storey

Attendance 307