After the winter break rangers were eager to get back into action against second from bottom Pebsham Sibex. With the inevitability that the sports park grass pitches would fall victim to the weather, rangers booked the 3G at the sports park and this proved to be an excellent decision.
Rangers had an almost a full squad to choose from with the only notable absentee Tony Derese who was rested due to an injury, despite the towering Belgian coming through a full training session earlier in the week. Martin Bell was hoping to secure his fifth clean sheet in the league this season and tasked to help him in his quest was Steve Green, Dan Chapman, Aaron Filsell and rangers skipper Dave Bennett-Tomlin. Lee Chapman was partnered by Sean Hardie in central midfield with Matt Wheeler and Dan Wilkes providing the width on the rangers flanks. Tasked with providing the triple champions with goals was top scorer Jamie Strong and the irrepressible Ben Jesson. The rangers bench was made up of Josh Flaherty, Luke Barber, Connor Sullivan and Jamie Baker-Beale.
With the clock ticking away, Pebsham finally arrived less than half an hour before kick off which did see the game get underway on time but only due to the lack of warm up time the referee offered the visitors. With conditions a little gusty, it was almost certainly going to be a torrid afternoon for some of the players....
It took rangers just five minutes to open the scoring which came after Wheeler outstripped his marker and squared up the ball to Strong who made no mistake to give rangers a 1-0 lead. Ten minutes later, after some neat team play, Filsell found himself thirty yards from goal and played an incisive pass to Jesson who converted to notch up his first goal of the afternoon. Being two goals up rangers should have settled in their stride but Pebsham tried their best to pressurise the rangers back four who wee finding it difficult, along with keeper Bell, to play out from the back with the visitors also aided by the wind and several rangers passes falling short as a result. Pebsham's good pressure went unrewarded and on 25 minutes, Jesson doubled his tally after neat work down the rangers left from Wilkes. Seven minutes later it was Wilkes who was provider again with Wheeler applying the finish to give rangers an unassailable four goal lead.
Moments later, Wheeler returned the favour when Wilkes tapped home in the area on 36 minutes and it was now very clear that Pebsham had already accepted their fate in the blustering wind. At five nil, many teams may well have let up but rangers added a further two goals before the break to inflict yet more misery on the visitors. Six minutes before half time Wheeler won the ball superbly in the Pebsham area only for a defender bring down the rangers man, the referee not hesitating to point to the spot. Up stepped Strong to expertly dispatch the ball into the back of the net. Four minutes later Strong completed his first half hatrick, this time Jesson providing a well worked assist. 7-0 at half time.
A blistering first half display from rangers left the management team very little to say at at the interval.....but there's always something. :-) It was obvious that rangers were a different class to a tired looking Pebsham side with regards to not only fitness but also quality on the ball when in possession, with the rangers pace and movement just too much for Pebsham to handle. Rangers had also worked extremely hard to win the ball back when not in possesssion, to which the visitors had no answer.
Rangers took just one minute to notch up their eighth goal of the afternoon when Strong slotted through Jesson who gleefully converted his third of the game. This saw rangers make a triple change with Filsell, Lee Chapman and Hardie replaced by Flaherty, Barber and Sullivan. This meant a reshuffle of the pack with Barner slotting into left back with Dan Chapman partnering Jesson in midfield. Sullivan was introduced up front while Flaherty stepped in as a straight swap at centre half.
A few minutes after the changes, the red and blacks added a further goal when Green teared down the right, pulled back the ball from the byline which saw Strong head home his fourth goal of the afternoon. It took rangers twenty minutes to secure their tenth goal with Green finding Strong yet again, this time on the edge of the area, which saw Strong rifle his shot into the top corner of the goal. With three minutes to go the hard working Sullivan got his reward after he scored from a through-ball from Strong which saw the score finish 11-0.
This was a superb squad display and as ever it's difficult to single out individuals with everybody's work-rate second to none with the rangers back line also particularly solid all afternoon. Strong and Wheeler came close to the individual accolade with Strong contributing five goals and two assists while Wheelers goal and three assists also complemented his excellent work-rate which made him a viable contender. But the MOM was awarded to Ben Jesson who showed all of Strong's and Wheelers attributes in combination - three goals, an assist and superb work rate in multiple positions especially in centre midfield in the final quarter of the game when many others from both sides were tiring. This win sees rangers now eight points clear at the top of the table with a goal difference of +35. With just four goals conceded and an impressive haul of 39 goals scored in eight league games, they should be no let up from rangers until the job at hand is complete.
Next week rangers welcome bottom side Northiam to the sports park. With the forecast looking suspect, the 3G has been booked as back up yet again as the red and blacks look to pull further away at the summit of the table while teams challenging rangers struggle to get their games on due to the weather.
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...