Eastbourne Rangers 1-3 Herstmonceux
8th September 2013
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Eastbourne Rangers looked to put their opening day defeat behind them and welcomed Herstmonceux to the sports park. In the only prior meeting between the two sides 'ceux shaded out rangers 2-1 in last seasons Eastbourne Vice Presidents Cup Final. Rangers welcomed back several players back to the squad in the form of Dan and Lee Chapman, Chris Ward, Josh Kyte and skipper Dave Bennett-Tomlin, all of which were given the nod to start the game. Martin Bell took the gloves with Mark Hymans and Dan Chapman filling in the full back births while the returning skipper partnered Mike Pickard at centre half. Lee Chapman came straight back into the midfield and was partnered by warhorse Dan Harmer while Josh Kyte and Chris Ward started on the left and right wings respectively. Glen Noble paired up with Ben Jesson up front while Tom Tribe, Connor Sullivan and Ricky Curran were on the rangers bench.

Rangers took the kick off and instantly it was clear to see it was going to be a feisty affair. Within minutes, first blood was literally drawn when a Jesson boot caught the stooping head of ceux centre half Steve Thompson resulting in treatment being required which saw the rangers coach kindly help patch up the ceux skipper. While ceux were down to 10 men, rangers pounced after Lee Chapman danced his way through the middle of the ceux defence to calmly slot past the ceux keeper. 1-0 rangers.
 
The game soon returned to 11 v 11 with both teams looking to dictate the game with the ceux manager running the line received a ticking off from the referee after 10 minutes - little did rangers know that this ceux representative would play a major part in the way the game would unfold.
 
Rangers almost doubled their lead when a Kyte cross-shot from the left evaded everybody, even the back post. So close. The pace of Kyte, Noble and Jesson looked particularly threatening down the ceux right hand side and rangers should have extended their lead with half hour on the clock only for poor rangers finishing to let the away side off the hook. The game continued to be strongly contested all over the pitch with skipper Bennett-Tomlin lucky not to find himself in the book after a couple of late challenges. Jesson continued to put himself about up front after being fired up by the management team before kick off but one foul too many saw the rangers talisman find his way into the referees notebook. Man for man in the respect of personal battles, rangers were on top which was something heavily focused on before kick off.
 
8 minutes before half time, a decent ceux break down the rangers right saw keeper Bell called into action with the rangers number 1 saving smartly with his legs at his near post which ensured rangers went in at the interval a goal to the good. Talk at half time asked for focus on the remaining 45 minutes as being just a goal up (rather than the deserved 3) ceux were still well in the game.
 
The start of the second half saw the contest unravel further with rangers breaking well on numerous occasions only for the offside flag to cruelly deny rangers further penetrating the ceux back line. Kyte in fact had the ball in the back of net after pouncing on a rebound (after advancing through the middle of two ceux defenders after the initial shot was saved) but the ceux manager disgraced himself further by raising his flag, with the referee having no choice but to give offside. With even Herstmonceux spectators embarrassed by this clear disregard for fair play, this was a major turning point of the game. Two goals up and rangers would have been potentially home and dry. But with the margin just a solitary goal the game was still extremely tight. Midway through the first half, the ceux centre forward was penalised for diving, and with everyone thinking the inevitable caution would follow, rangers were bemused that the striker got left off for his theatrics.
 
Sullivan then replaced Noble up front which saw Jesson drop back to forge a three man midfield to match the ceux line up in the middle of the park. Most of the second half was played in rangers half, a role reversal of the opening 45 with the wind favouring both teams for most of the half that they kicked down wind. The onus was clearly on ceux to push forward but this left them vulnerable on the break. Now with the added pace and fresh legs of Sullivan, rangers looked to exploit this new option. With 76 minutes on the clock, Sullivan chased down a clearance deep into the Herstmonceux half which he had no right to win. After squaring up his defender, he looked to dart around the outside only to be cynically fouled in what Sullivan claims was inside the area. However, with the referee 40 yards away, rangers were only awarded a freekick.... Maybe the ceux linesman should have flagged? :-)
 
With nothing coming from the resulting freekick, moments later ceux were awarded a controversial penalty (aren't they all) when the same ceux striker who escaped a caution earlier for diving took a tumble in the area after getting across Pickard. Maybe on a yellow card, he'd have found it easier to stay on his feet? Keeper Bell guessed the right way but the penalty was tucked away clinically in the corner. 1-1 and rangers were obviously disappointed. 9 minutes on the clock saw Hymans and Kyte replaced by Tribe and Curran on a tired looking left hand side.
 
With 8 minutes left, a break down the rangers left saw the ceux number 10 get round the back of rangers for the first time in the game. His resulting pull back picked out a ceux player on the edge of the box which saw a finish of sublime quality undeservedly and cruelly give Herstmonceux the lead. 2-1
 
Jesson was promptly pushed back up top to partner Sullivan but rangers chances were now sparse with time on the clock running out. Ceux even managed to rub salt into the rangers wound when an awkward Pickard back pass saw Bell clear into a pressing ceux attacker with the ball ending up in the back of the net. 3-1 ceux. Flattering to say the least. The full time whistle shortly followed and after leading for so long it's only right for rangers to feel despondent. Last week rangers got what they deserved whereas this week......well, they were mugged in more ways than one. 
 
Rangers only crime is the fact that they defended well for 80 minutes and 80 minutes only. And although this may sound like sour grapes, the crimes of the opposition, in particular our friend the linesman, are so much worse. Rangers can hold their heads high, they gave their best for most of the game but in the end were edged out by some unsavoury, dishonest tactics. Let's not forget though, that the red and blacks should have been home and dry at half time, so some may say they only have themselves to blame. But the fact remains that this was a decent rangers performance, a performance which had clearly improved from seven days previous. Rangers should not panic, it's early days, and the management team are confident that it's only a matter of time before the points start rolling in.
 
The step up to division 2 is currently a steep learning curve for the triple champions but hopefully next weeks long away trip to Hawkhurst will bear rich fruit to get rangers off the mark.
 
See you all there.
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Eastbourne Rangers FC

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...

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