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12/13 Match Reports

6th April
Eastbourne Rangers 9 v 0 Magham Down
Ben Jesson 15', 24', 26', 37', 58'
Josh Kyte 50', 72'
Luke Davies 66'
Glen Noble 85'

After a bank holiday weekend of cup games, Rangers returned to league action with a clash against bottom of the table Magham Down at the field of dreams. While Rangers had been busy with cup commitments the other teams at the top of the division had been continuing with their league campaigns, meaning that the red & blacks had been replaced at the top of the table. It was therefore important that the 3 points were secured to ensure that Rangers didn’t fall further behind in the race for the league title. Rangers had beaten Magham 5-0 away in November, but they had strengthened since that encounter, mainly through the acquisition of young striker Aaron Weir who had hit three hat tricks in a row, and was already one of the top scorers in the division despite only joining Magham at Christmas. Fortunately Rangers had come through their two cup games in 3 days pretty much unscathed. This meant a pretty much full squad was available for this game, except for Mike Pickard who was away on a stag weekend and long term injury victim Mark Hymans. This also afforded the management team the luxury of resting captain Dave Bennett-Tomlin who had picked up a slight niggle in the previous game. This left Rangers to line up with the ever present Grant Smith in goal, a back four of Ricky Curran on the right, Ryan Webb on the left and Dan Harmer & Tom Tribe who was returning to the team after several weeks absence due to illness and work commitments, in the middle. In midfield Stuart Potter took up position on the right, with Josh Kyte in his usual left wing birth and Conor Middleton and Rob Anderson in the centre. Up front top scorer Ben Jesson was joined by new signing Luke Davies. This left a very strong looking bench of Jules Waters, Glen Noble and Christian Ward, giving the gaffer lots of options to make changes if needed. Before the game the gaffer was keen to emphasize that the red & blacks couldn’t afford any slip ups and had to take the game seriously, a good performance would be required by every Ranger in order to secure the win.

The team talk obviously had an effect, as the red & blacks started strongly and were quickly into their attacking stride. Within the first 10 minutes Rangers had 3 golden chances to open the scoring. First Josh headed straight into the keepers arms from a great cross by Stuart when it seemed easier to score. Then Luca was sent through one on one with the Magham keeper but his attempted lob went just over the bar. Finally Conor weaved his way past several defenders in the box, but didn’t get quite enough power in his shot which beat the keeper but trickled just a fraction past the post. Rangers were looking dangerous with virtually every foray forward as the Magham defence were looking extremely susceptible to the red & black’s incisive and pacy play. However Rangers were looking a bit tentative at the back themselves, probably because Harmer & Tribe hadn’t played together in the middle of defence very much. A couple of times there were mix ups which nearly let the Magham strikers in on goal. On one occasion Magham did break through the Rangers back line, but the striker showed a lack of composure as he shanked his shot wide. The opening goal Rangers had been threatening eventually arrived after about 15 minutes, and it came unsurprisingly from top scorer Ben. He picked the ball up on the edge of the box with his back to goal, and made a great turn which completely bamboozled the Magham defender. As Ben drove into the box the centre back’s desperate attempt to stop the goal scoring opportunity only resulted in him pushing the tricky front man over. The referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot as Ben picked himself up before stepping up and placing the spot kick low to the keeper’s right and into the corner of the net. 1-0 Rangers, and a well deserved lead. This goal seemed to really settle the red & blacks down as they started to get into a rhythm, and play some really nice football. The ball was pinging round nicely and the Magham players seemed to be chasing shadows most of the time. It wasn’t long before the 2nd goal arrived, and this time Josh was the provider. He had already tormented the right back with his direct pacy runs down the flank, for which the full back had no answer. This time he easily beat said defender for pace before getting to the byline, cutting in and delivering the ball on a plate for Ben who had timed his run in the box to perfection, and he had the easy task of just placing the ball past the keeper for 2-0. Magham hardly had time to regain their breath before it was 3-0, this time good pressing by Conor saw him win the ball of a Magham midfielder and his first time ball pierced the back four and ran straight into the path of a well timed run down the left channel by Ben who slotted it past the keeper into the far corner for his deserved hat-trick.. Rangers were now rampant and Magham were starting to argue amongst themselves. They did have a chance to pull a goal back when a free kick was conceded about 25 yards out from the Rangers goal. The shot from the free kick was powerful but it seemed that Grant had it well covered; however it took a wicked deflection and left him wrong footed. But he somehow managed to get across and just tip the ball round the post. A very good save considering he had been a spectator for most of the game, even the Magham manager was impressed. It wasn’t long before Rangers were back up the other end extending their lead. Rick played a good ball between the centre and the left back which saw Ben bursting through to lob it over the keeper for 4-0. Unfortunately the gaffer was then forced to make a substitution as Conor who had been having a very strong game up to that point sustained a nasty looking ankle injury after a bad scissor tackle by one of the Magham players, which amazingly went completely unpunished by the referee. Luckily the gaffer was able to bring Jules on as a direct replacement. Magham must have been relieved to hear the half time whistle without Rangers adding to the 4-0 score line. There wasn’t much for the gaffer to say at half time apart from praise everybody for the way they had played in the first half and urge them to not take their foot off the gas in the second half.

The half time team talk was obviously taken to heart as Rangers extended their lead with only a few minutes on the clock. It was probably also the last thing Magham wanted as no doubt they would have spoken at half time about stemming the flow of goals and not conceding early on in the second half. This time Ben’s monopoly on the goal scoring was ended, as a great ball through the left channel by Jules eluded the Magham defenders and Josh ran through and fired into the bottom right corner of the goal for 5-0. Rangers were getting a lot of success with balls through the channels between the Magham defenders, as they just couldn’t handle the pace of the Rangers attacking players. Unfortunately at this point Rangers lost another player to injury as Stuart had to come off due to a hamstring strain. But once again the gaffer had a ready made replacement in the shape of Chris who slotted straight into his usual right wing position. There was no keeping Ben out of the game as he got on the end of a ball from Rob to make it 6-0 and pick up his fifth goal of the game. Luca then got in on the act as he picked up a ball from Chris, broke through and scored his first competitive goal from normal play in a Rangers shirt. 7-0 and Magham were in disarray and looking completely shell shocked. The gaffer took this opportunity to bring Harmer off and rest his legs for upcoming games, and replaced him with Glen. This change saw a complete reshuffle with Ben dropping into midfield to make space for Glen up top, Rob moving to right back and Rick joining Tribe in the middle of defence. It didn’t seem to have any effect on the fluency of Rangers play though as they remained completely on top and continued playing some really neat and incisive football. Glen didn’t take long to get into the game, as his flick header across the six yard box from Chris’s cross found Josh who had the simple task of nodding in at the far post for 8-0. Glen then got on the score sheet himself with what was probably the best goal of the game from a team standpoint. The ball was played out from the middle of defence to Rob at right back who then made his way to the halfway line before sending a great ball down the line behind the full back and into the path of an onrushing Chris. Without breaking stride Chris picked the ball up and drove towards the box, but instead of going all the way to the touchline, he played an early ball across to Glen whose run had taken him past an exhausted and dejected Magham defence, and he applied the finish to make it 9-0. It was very nearly double figures, as Glen had a great chance in the dying seconds but shot just wide. The final whistle went just afterwards much to the relief of all the Magham players. From Rangers stand point it was job done as they returned to the top of the table and boosted their goal difference advantage on the teams below. Unfortunately it did come at the cost of 3 injured players as Tribe had also picked up a calf strain although he managed to see the game out. With games coming thick and fast as the season builds to an exciting conclusion, the last thing Rangers need is to lose players to injury.

Unsurprisingly the gaffer awarded man of the match to Ben for his 5 goals, just edging out Josh who had put in another rampant performance on the left wing. Honourable mentions must go to whole of the rest of the team, as every Ranger put in a good shift and played their part in what was a strong performance and an excellent win. Rangers now have to focus on a tough cup quarter final against Little Chelsea from division 2 and a long trip out to Iden for a league double header. Both encounters are sure to test the strength and depth of the Rangers squad to the full, but on the back of this game, they should face them with momentum on their side, as well as confidence and optimism.

(4-4-2)

GK Grant Smith
RB Ricky Curran
LB Ryan Webb
CB Dan Harmer (c) (Glen Noble 70')
CB Tom Tribe
CM Connor Middleton (Julian Waters 35')
CM Rob Anderson
RW Stuart Potter (Christian Ward 65')
LW Josh Kyte - MOM
F Ben Jesson
F Luke Davies
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