Rangers welcomed Nutley to the SportsPark this week in the third round of the Sussex FA Junior Cup. Rangers were looking for their twelfth straight victory in all competitions but knew they would be in for a tough 90 minutes against a very tidy Mid Sussex Division Three outfit.
Rangers made a couple of changes to the starting XI from the previous game with Dan Chapman coming in at centre midfield which saw Aaron Filsell move back to centre half in place of the injured Josh Flaherty. Jamie Strong was also reinstated to the starting line up in place of Jamie Baker-Beall, who was only fit enough for the bench after coming off injured last week. Sean Hardie and Tony Derese were the other rangers substitutes.
Rangers started the game very poorly with the usual rangers flow absent from a very sticky sports park pitch. Martin Bell was the busier of the two keepers in the opening exchanges, making two excellent saves in the opening 15 minutes. On 18 minutes, Bell could do nothing about the Nutley opener which gave the away side a deserved 1-0 lead, a lead that had been well and truly on the cards.
Rangers looked to respond as a long range effort stung the hands of the Nutley keeper, while a more traditional rangers move almost carved a good opening, but the away defence stood firm. Just as rangers started to control more of the game, a sucker blow. A break down the rangers left saw the ball fed into the Nutley striker in the box who fired expertly past Bell at a tight angle, 2-0 Nutley.
Half time was not a pretty sight with the rangers starting XI knowing full well that they had all performed well below par…..
The second half saw rangers show a lot of character and the red and blacks were now more competitive all over the park. Nine minutes onto the half, rangers were back in the game. A trademark burst from Steve Green from the full back position saw him eat up the space in front of him in a flash. Green cut the ball back across the area where Strong had the easiest of tap ins to make the score 2-1 to Nutley, hope for rangers.
The away side now knew the were in a game as rangers now looked a completely different side from the first half in terms of the way they were competing. The playing surface was still proving difficult for both sides who were still trying to play football. 10 minutes after the rangers lifeline, Lee Chapman was adjudged to have brought down a Nutley man in the rangers box – a killer blow at a crucial time, particularly as rangers were looking the more likely to score. The Nutley midfielder made no mistake with the penalty to restore his teams two goal cushion, and rangers now needed to react again. This saw the introduction of Tony Derese for Dan Chapman in a straight swap in midfield.
A few minutes later, Lee Chapman made amends after his run was picked out in the Nutley area with Chapman gleefully poking home at the keepers near post. 3-2, and there was still plenty of time to go.
With 20 minutes left on the clock Hardie replaced a tiring Connor Sullivan. Nutley had now decided to sit on their lead with every throw and freekick seemingly taking an age for the away side to take. Matt Wheeler looked at constant danger down the rangers right and was very unlucky not to earn his side several free kicks in promising positions. With 15 minutes left, Baker-Beall replaced Luke Barber in a move which saw rangers revert to a back 3 with “Bakes” joining Strong and Ben Jesson up front. A few minutes after his introduction, Baker-Bealls call for a penalty was instantly waved away by the referee.
Nutley were now defending very deep with the Nutley skipper keeping a very controlled back line which he had done all afternoon to great effect. In the dying minutes, Hardie exchanged passes with Jesson which the former dispatched into the Nutley net, but Hardie was thwarted by the flag in a very marginal decision, which had been a feature of the Nutley mangers afternoon.
Upon the full time whistle, rangers couldn’t really complain about the end result due to a dire first half performance, although some credit should be given to the visitors who had applied themselves superbly for most of the afternoon. Rangers have started slowly in many games this season, but rarely has this seen them be behind at half time. The second half reaction was superb, but the second and third goals came at crucial times for the visitors just as rangers were building up a head of steam.
This result saw rangers record breaking winning streak come to an end, fortunately records don’t win trophies even though it might help.
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...