Gameweek two for the rangers ESFL team saw them feature on the on the sports park 3g for the first time this season with Wadhurst United the visitors. After last weeks excellent display at JC Tackleway the talk before the game was about maintaining the standard set 7 day previous. Rangers would have to do this without skipper Aaron Filsell, check
Greg Manton made his competitive rangers debut coming in for Filsell, while in the absence of Wilkes, vice captain Ben Jesson was giving the nod up front. In the only other changes to last weeks starting XI Kirk Ferguson started his first game for rangers in the engine room and was partnered by Lee Chapman. The rangers bench was made up of the rested / rotated Tony Derese, teenager Remareo Tapper and youngster Brad Meredith.
A sharp start from rangers on the glorious playing surface saw the red and blacks nearly take the lead as early as the 3rd minute. A ball from Manton found the on rushing Jamie Strong who saw his dink over the keeper agonisingly rebound of the post to safety. Rangers dominated the early proceedings but without reward until the 16th minute. In almost a carbon copy of the rangers opening chance, a Manton through ball found Jesson (this time) who had bent his run superbly. The keeper came out to close down the rangers skipper but Jesson’s dink left the United number one stranded and the ball sailed into the back of the net to give rangers a deserved 1-0 lead.
Seven minutes later rangers doubled their tally. After some neat interplay, Strong fired a shot which the keeper could only spill, and Matty Wheeler reacted the quickest to rifle home the rebound. Just before the half hour mark, rangers rounded of 15 minutes that Wadhurst would rather forget with quite a sublime goal. In a period of keep ball in midfield and down the rangers left, Hardie eventually fed Carl Kenward who had overlapped from full back. His rasping, pinpoint cross was met by the head of Jesson who slammed the ball into the top corner to finish off a great rangers move – the keeper rooted to the floor. 3-0.
Much to United’s credit, they still tried to play football, where teams in the past have reverted to a more directed game when rangers have dominated. But the rangers backline was rarely troubled, marshalled by Manton and Newby with assistance from Kenward and Steve Green; Martin Bell in the rangers goal was mainly a spectator for the opening period. Nine minutes before the interval, and any hopes that Wadhurst may have had were squashed with a blistering breakaway goal. After excellent pressing by the rangers midfield, the ball fell to Strong inside his own half. A quick one two with Wheeler on half way saw Strong power towards the United goal. Strong timed his pass perfectly to Wheeler on the right flank, who enticed the only covering defender towards him. With Strong unmarked inside the box, Wheelers pull back was neatly dispatched by Strong to finish off a great rangers (Strong and Wheeler) move for 4-0. Blistering……!
At the break, all the talk was about the importance of a clean sheet and about how Wadhurst may now pose more of a challenge seeing as they now had nothing else to lose.
From the kick off Wadhurst initially showed more purpose and mounted a rare foray on the rangers goal which was eventually snuffled out by the rangers back four. But it took rangers just 9 minutes of the second half to add to their tally. Neat play in the rangers midfield saw Ferguson eventually thread the ball thorough to the run of Jesson who coolly rounded the keeper and slotted home for his hatrick – and rangers fifth goal of the afternoon.
Rangers were now rampant, but even though Wadhurst were counting down the minutes already, they did have a glorious chance for a consolation goal in the 57th minute. Rangers were disposed in midfield and a quick ball fed through to a clever run of the United striker saw him bear down on Bell in the rangers goal. But Bell was equally quick coming off his line and made a superb one on one stop which kept that all important clean sheet in tact. Excellent goalkeeping…
On the hour rangers scored again. Hardie, who had an excellent game on the rangers left, found Jesson in the Wadhurst box. Jesson found Strong who in turn found the run of Hardie with the Scotsman lashing his shot home past the keeper at the front post. 6-0. Rangers then made two changes with Derese replacing Chapman who had put in an excellent shift in the rangers midfield, and Tapper (making his rangers debut) came on for the irrepressible Wheeler.
A seventh goal for rangers saw Strong double his tally for the afternoon on 67 minutes when the ball fell to him in the United area, with last seasons top scorer making no mistake with the finish. Rangers then made their final change which saw Meredith replace the influential Manton. This saw Meredith slot in at left back and Kenward moving across to centre half.
With 16 minutes left on the clock, there was a goal for full debutant Ferguson. After dispossessing a Wadhurst player in midfield, the United defence parted like the red sea as Ferguson powered through and dispatched an excellent low finish across the keeper and into the far corner for 8-0.
Rangers wrapped up the scoring in the 83rd minute with a sublime goal. Green picked up the ball from deep inside his own half and set off on a searing run through the Wadhurst midfield. A quick one-two with Jesson on the edge on the box paved the way for Green to fire home a low shot across the bewildered keeper which topped off a great goal and an excellent afternoon for rangers. 9-0.
This was a scintillating rangers performance, albeit against a weakened Wadhurst outfit. The whole rangers team was exceptional yet again and surpassed levels shown in the league opener last week. The back four were superb and got what they deserved with a clean sheet. There were also excellent full debuts for Manton and Ferguson with the rangers front four of Wheeler, Hardie, Strong and Jesson too much too handle. But the Seaside Café MOM was awarded to Ben Jesson – not just for his three goals, but also for his movement, work rate and link up play.
Rangers next game will be undoubtedly the toughest yet when AFC Hastings are welcomed to the sports park 3G on the 19th September, 3pm kick off.