Eastbourne Rangers were looking to build on their first win of the season (which came last week) as they made the short trip to Catsfield. Rangers had no fewer than seven players unavailable for various reasons as well as gaffer Nick Stevenson being away on business. A couple of players were also struggling with knocks acquired from previous games but coach Marc McKay still had 13 players in the matchday squad. Martin Bell took the gloves while rangers named an unchanged back four for the first time this season with Ricky Curran and Dan Chapman at right and left back while Mike Pickard partnered skipper Dave Bennett-Tomlin at the heart of the rangers defence. Josh Kyte was recalled to the starting XI and started on the left wing while Chris Ward got the green light on the right. Lee Chapman and Dan Harmer provided extensive experience for differing reasons in central midfield while Ben Jesson was partnered by Glen Noble up front for just the second time this season. Connor Sullivan and Tom Tribe were on the rangers bench.
Rangers seemed very slow out of the blocks with a brace of simple passes going astray in the opening thirty seconds. Catsfield lined up with a five man midfield with just one up front but Harmer and Lee Chapman, despite being outnumbered in the middle, looked like they could handle being a "man down". Catsfield started much the brighter but rangers struck a killer blow with just seven minutes on the clock. A long goal kick from Bell saw Jesson rise the highest on halfway. Noble timed his run to perfection, bursting through the heart of the Catsfield centre pairing. After taking time to compose himself Noble calmly slotted under the keeper to give rangers a very flattering one nil lead.
Just a minute later some excellent play down the rangers right saw a cross form Ward headed over by Kyte who was just nine yards out where the keeper, at the very least, should have been tested. Rangers really had their tales up and on eleven minutes a good effort by Jesson took a nick off a defender which saw the keeper pull off an outstanding save. Rangers were now in full stride with Noble in particular having an excellent game and rarely putting a foot wrong.
On fourteen minutes, Jesson prodded home a rangers cross into the Catsfield net but the goal was chalked off for offside. A passage of play ensued where rangers looked dominant but were not creating any further real chances until on the half hour Ward delivered another pinpoint cross where best buddy Noble converted with an excellent diving header only to see the linesman's flag raised again. Rangers looked comfortable at the back and the main cause for concern was how rangers caused themselves problems in their own third with some poor decision making. Catsfield rarely threatened Bell in the rangers goal who was mainly called upon to mop up long balls over the top of the rangers back four.
Twelve minutes before half time, that man Noble was in the thick of the action again when he tested the keeper from outside the box with the Catsfield number one palming a low effort around the post. Rangers should have been more than a goal up by now and with half time looming it was looking like rangers would only go in one up at the break. This was until on 38 minutes, a Noble corner was nicked in by the thigh of vice captain Harmer to give rangers a well deserved two goal lead. On the stroke of half time Harmer nearly notched his second of the game when he started a neat passing move forty yards from the Carsfield goal. With the home defence breached due to some superb rangers passing, Ward squared the ball up to Harmer in the box but the keeper was equal to Harmers first time effort and beat the ball away to safety. 2-0 at half time and no more than rangers thoroughly deserved.
At the break, skipper Bennett-Tomlin was withdrawn which saw Tribe come on at right back. This saw Curran move to left back and Dan Chapman shift across to partner Pickard at centre half. Rangers were reminded that the game was far from over and that only a continuation of the first half performance would be good enough to secure all three points.
Similar to the first half rangers were very slow at the start of the second forty-five minutes. With the home team reshuffling their own pack to a 4-4-2 formation rangers took a while to adjust at the back. Within two minutes of the restart rangers let Catsfield back into the game. A cross from the rangers left about forty yards out seemed to take an eternity to hit the rangers box; but when it did a home striker was left unmarked eighteen yards out who gratefully headed home clinically into the rangers bottom left corner. Shocking defending but more should have been done to prevent the cross too. This seemed to revitalise the home team who now had more belief in their play although they clearly lacked a bit of cutting edge up front. At the other end Jesson and in particular Noble looked a constant danger to the Catsfield back line.
With 59 minutes on the clock players from both teams were pulled over to the rangers right. Some more neat play by rangers saw Lee Chapman find Kyte on the left who was one on one with the Catsfield centre half. With screams of "take him on" from the sidelines the little man had other ideas, unleashing a venomous drive from twenty-five yards out into the top corner of the net. 3-1 rangers. This was just what rangers needed at a crucial time of the game as another goal from the home side would have been a dagger through the heart of every ranger. Moments later, Lee Chapman tested the home keeper who made yet another good save while at the other end Bell saved smartly at his near post with the ball looking certain to sneak in.
The game was now end to end stuff with rangers looking extremely threatening open the break. On sixty-six minutes Jesson was put through on goal with only the keeper to beat. The keeper did well to force Jesson wide but the little maestro still managed to round the man with the gloves, but his finish found the side netting much to the frustration of rangers all time top scorer. With eighteen minutes to go Jesson got his reward after putting in a great shift all afternoon. The little man burst though into the area and was about to pull the trigger when the keeper came out and cleaned Jessons legs away.... PENALTY - there was only ever going to be one person that was going to take it. Jesson duly despatched the spot kick hard and low into the bottom corner to secure his first goal of the campaign. 4-1 rangers.
This saw Sullivan replace Kyte who had put in a good shift down the rangers left. "Sully" looked lively after his introduction and nearly found himself on the scoresheet but his twenty yard effort was saved by the Catsfield MOM between the sticks. Rangers keeper bell had to pull of one more save, a point blank effort at his near post but rangers by now knew they were home and dry. The full time whistle followed and it's fair to say this result was well deserved particularly as rangers could have had double figures.
Some great performances all round with Lee Chapman putting in a great shift despite being ill. His midfield partner Harmer also put in a superb effort by rolling back the years putting in a dynamic performance in the middle. Jesson worked tirelessly and selflessly but the clear MOM was Noble for his all round play and a performance that Catsfield just had no answer to. This win sees rangers climb two places in the league table after back to back wins. Next week rangers face league favourites and leaders Little Chelsea where, with some familiar faces returning, the red and blacks will be looking to give the league leaders a run for their money.
Member since: 25th July 2013
Eastbourne Rangers were formed in May 2009 and after a seasons worth of consolidation, we haven't looked back since. Four league consecutive titles in five years (which have seen the club promoted SIX...