Eastbourne Rangers entertained Crowhurst FC this week on the sports park 3g in what was to be expected a very tight game. The teams met just before Christmas when a depleted rangers squad came away with 3-1 victory at Crowhurst Rec. A familiar pattern regarding availability of players was apparent again, but fortunately for rangers, the MSFL were without a fixture which ensured a full bench and a strong line-up was possible. Ever present Martin Bell was in goal with Kyle Daines partnering Rory Newby at the heart of the rangers defence for the second week running. Lee Chapman was thrust straight back into the starting XI as right back (which was the only change from last week) while the reliable and consistent Carl Kenward completed the back four in the left back birth. An unchanged front six saw Tony Derese partner skipper Ben Jesson in central midfield with pacemen Dylan Nanack and Matt Wheeler given the green light on the left and right flanks respectively. The division’s joint top scorers were paired off up front in the form of Dan Wilkes and Jamie Strong, who has netted eight times in the last three games. Rangers had an extremely strong bench which consisted of Mark Warren, Jack Findon and Josh Kyte.
Rangers got off to a solid start but it was clear from the kick off that the opposition had come to get stuck in. On 12 minutes, rangers took an early lead. Good closing down from Nanuck on the left saw him win the ball and drive into the Crowhurst area. His square pass found Wheeler six yards out who calmly tapped the ball into the back of the net. 1-0.
Moments later though, an incident occurred which affected the tone of the rest of the game. A long ball was played over the top of the rangers back four and out came Bell to comfortably claim the bouncing ball above his head. But a late challenge from the Crowhurst striker saw Bell receive stud marks down the side of his rib cage, as well as a torn shirt. After a yellow card for the offender and 5 minutes worth of treatment for Bell, the game was able to resume, which now had more of a physical feel to proceedings. This was evident with the referee adding Jessons name to his book along with another Crowhurst player as tempers continued to flair. Kenward also found himself in trouble with the referee after being less than complementary about the Crowhurst linesman.
In truth though, rangers first half had been pretty appalling by their own high standards with general decision making throughout the team the worst it had been for most of the season.
Rangers start to the second half couldn’t have been any worse either after a long ball into a packed rangers box fell to the unmarked Crowhurst striker who dispatched the ball past Bell from eight yards out. 1-1 and game on. Rangers regained the lead just after the hour mark with an outstanding team goal. Midfield enforcer Derese made an absolutely thumping challenge on the Crowhurst number 8 to thwart a breakaway for the away side. Jesson picked up the ball and played out to Wheeler on the right. Wheeler exchanged passes with Jesson which saw the former get away from his marker on the wing. Wheelers pinpoint cross found Strong who finished first time to restore rangers precious lead.
Rangers knew they needed another goal to kill the game off, and this nearly came from the head of Wilkes after Nanuck had whipped in a telling cross from the left hand side, but Wilkes difficult header went over the bar. Not to be outdone by Strong though, Wilkes did get himself on the score sheet on 74 minutes when Strong played a dinked ball in behind the Crowhurst back line. Wilkes pace took him away from the opposition, and with the Crowhurst keeper advancing from his goal, Wilkes converted a delightful lob over the keeper to give rangers that all important two goal cushion. Moments later, another Crowhurst yellow card, this time the Number 8 totting up far too many rash challenges for the referees liking.
Two changes for rangers saw Findon replace Newby and Kyte replace Wheeler, both of whom had picked up minor ailments. Kyte almost made an immediate impact down the rangers left which saw him burn away towards goal, but his shot was well parried by the keeper to keep the score at 3-1. Rangers were relieved at the final whistle after coming through a tough encounter. This, and news filtering through that Sidley United and Old Hastonians had played out a 2-2 draw, ensured this was an excellent afternoon for the red and blacks. There were good performances from Newby, Jesson, Nanuck and Wheeler but Tony Derese just edged the MOM award for “that tackle” which led to rangers all important second goal.
Next week sees rangers travel to Hooe rec for their penultimate league game of the season when they face off against Sidley United in what could be a title defining game. Whoever takes all three could well become favourites for the league title. Two wins from their last two games all but guarantees rangers the trophy due to a superior goal difference. That said, the twists and turns this division has produced may well continue.
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...