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12/13 Match Reports

13th April
Iden II 2 v 8 Eastbourne Rangers
Jamie Strong 3', 17', 46'
Ben Jesson 10'
Stuart Potter 22'
Mike Pickard 29'
Glen Noble 33', 50'

Game two saw just two changes from the starting XI that started game one with Noble given the nod on the left flank in place of Kyte and Strong starting in place of Davies up front. With only half the job done, it was made clear to all that dropping points was definitely not an option.

It didn't take long for rangers to go in to an early lead. A excellent early cross from Ward found a well timed run from Strong who finished first time to double his tally for the afternoon to set rangers well on their way. Jesson then helped himself to his fourth of the afternoon after some sterling work from Bennett-Tomlin in the middle found Jesson with a neat through ball, with the little marksman finishing coolly.

Rangers were then forced into a change with the skipper coming off with a niggle; this saw Anderson move back into the middle of midfield, Ward move to right back and Potter come back on to the right wing. Shortly after this reshuffle, Strong added his second and rangers third of the game to bring his personal tally of the afternoon to three.

Iden then pulled a goal back when a 25 effort took a cruel deflection off a ranger and into the corner of the rangers net, leaving keeper Smith with no chance - a cruel way to lose a clean sheet! As bemused as rangers were, they still knocked the ball around looking for openings. Rangers increased their lead 8 minutes before the interval when Jules Waters swung in a pin point free kick which allowed Potter to glance a header into the net. 4-1 rangers.

Moments later, Iden much have felt they were back in the game. They were awarded a soft free kick about 20 yards out, and with the wall set and keeper Smith at the ready, all looked well. However, the Iden mans effort was hard and low, and with the conditions aiding the free kick the ball ended up in Smiths bottom left corner. 4-2.

On the stroke of half time, another set piece and another rangers goal which settled any nerves, if there were any. This time, Jesson was the supplier as his corner was met by the towering Mike Pickard who headed home with considerable ease. Half time and the feeling was the job was done, and at 5-2, who could argue?

Rangers continued to impress with the ball at their feet. Dan Harmer was solid at the back with the rangers experienced campaigner allowing nothing to get by. Up front, Jesson and Strong looked dangerous with the latter in particular now becoming more effective the more he got to know the players around him. It was Strong who carved the way for Noble to get on the scoresheet when he fed the ball through to the rangers frontman. A little kink from noble saw him lose his marker, creating just enough space to smash the ball into the top corner. Relief for Noble.

This saw Davies come on up front which saw Jesson move into centre midfield with Waters coming off after more than 90 minutes on the field of play. Rangers made it 7-2 with 14 minutes to go with Strong claiming a well deserved hatrick. After being fed the ball by Curran, Strong turned and powered through the Iden back line, finishing sublimely to secure his first hatrick for the club.

Rangers then made their final change of the afternoon with Ward making way for Middleton. This saw Potter fill in at right back while Middleton took up position on the rangers right wing. It didn't take too long for Middleton to get in on the action with a sweeping rangers move ending up with another rangers goal. Strong picked up the ball on the rangers left and sprayed an excellent cross field ball over to Middleton on the right. Without breaking stride, Middleton picked out Noble at the back post who tapped home his second of the game. 8-2 rangers.

The red and blacks did have a late scare in the dying moments of the game. The youthful Iden right winger picked up the ball and hit rangers on the break. The little man hit a rasping effort which smashed the top of the bar, not before keeper Smith getting his fingertips to the ball - a fine save.

When the final whistle came, both teams were happy the contest was over. Rangers because it was six points in the bag, Iden because they had been run ragged all afternoon, and relief for both sides that they no longer needed to compete in difficult conditions. MOM for this game could easily have been awarded to Jamie Strong, not just for his blistering hatrick but for his all round play which was indeed seamless. However, rangers stalwart Dan Harmer just edged it as he was excellent at the back for the entire game, snuffing out any danger that came his way.

All in all, an excellent afternoon for rangers who played some great stuff on a difficult surface. Six points were well earned, and rangers can now see the finish line knowing that a win against Peasmarsh next week and against Bexhill III four days later should bring them their just rewards - their THIRD consecutive league title. Not many teams at any level can boast the same consistency. By the time the Bexhill game comes around, rivals Herstmonceux II should have finished their remaining fixtures. And only a record DELUGE of goals in their double header against Burwash would force rangers having to wait one more game to secure the title.

(4-4-2)

GK Grant Smith
RB Rob Anderson
LB Ricky Curran
CB Dan Harmer - MOM
CB Mike Pickard
CM Dave Bennett-Tomlin (c) (Stuart Potter 15')
CM Julian Waters (Luke Davies 35')
RW Christian Ward (Connor Middleton 50')
LW Glen Noble
F Ben Jesson
F Jamie Strong
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