Eastbourne Rangers were relishing the chance to gain revenge over Windsor this week with the opening day defeat against their neighbours still fresh in the minds of every ranger. That day rangers had five players missing but were ultimately beaten on the day by the better side. This time round, rangers had no fewer than eight players unavailable, six of which were core members of the squad. With Dave Bennett-Tomlin, Glen Noble and Rob Anderson injured, rangers were also without Dan Harmer, Mark Hymans and Tom Tribe. With rangers "fillers" Andrea Chiesa and Ryan Webb also unavailable due to work commitments, retired keeper Grant Smith was called into action for the first time this season and joined coach Marc McKay on the rangers bench. Keeper Martin Bell was as usual given the nod between the sticks while rangers crisis at centre half saw the recently superb Dan Chapman fall back from midfield to partner rangers only six footer in the team, Mike Pickard. The late withdrawal of Hymans, due to an alleged migraine, saw Chris Ward asked to play at right back while on the opposite flank, ever present Ricky Curran was given the green light. In front of him saw the first start in over a month for winger Josh Kyte which saw Connor Sullivan switch to the right wing, while a three man midfield of Lee Chapman, Jules Waters and Sean Hardie were tasked with supporting lone ranger Ben Jesson up front.
Rangers lost the toss and unfortunately were made to switch ends meaning they had to play with the wind in the first half. The red and blacks started reasonably well shading both territory and possession in the opening exchanges with rangers looking to play the more attractive football from the outset. Despite a good start rangers found themselves a goal down midway through the first half when a long ball caught the rangers defence flat footed which saw the Windsor MOM finish first time past the despairing Bell. 0-1.
Rangers were not to be deterred however, and got themselves back on level terms 10 minutes before the interval. Jesson timed his run perfectly into the channel between the Windsor full back and centre half which saw the rangers front man drive into the box where he rounded the Windsor keeper but was pushed out wide. With the keeper out of position, Jesson laid the ball across the box where a bit of pinball ensued, with the ball eventually falling to Hardie who gratefully snatched his first goal for the club. 1-1 and fully deserved.
Leading up to half time Windsor came close with a long range effort which whistled over the rangers bar while at the other end, rangers pace men looked threatening at times but did not really make any clear cut chances.
The second half saw rangers fire out of the blocks very quickly which saw the triple champions score two quick goals. The first was started from a long goal kick from Bell which was headed on by Jesson to Hardie. Hardie instinctively knew where Kyte was behind him, and with one touch to control, his second touch was a delightful overhead dink into the path of Kyte in the left channel. Kyte opened his little legs, burst into the Windsor box and made no mistake with the finish to give rangers the lead. 2-1.
Rangers now believed they could cause their second upset in three weeks with the rangers back four defending stoutly, in particular against the never ending long balls coming from the Windsor left back. Waters and Chapman seemed to have the midfield under control and with Hardie joining Jesson at every opportunity along with Sullivan and Kyte on the wings, rangers were looking the more confident of the teams. This confidence was compounded just 14 minutes into the half when Jesson picked up the ball from deep and drove at the Windsor back four, who found themselves backing off into their own penalty area. Jesson's drive between left back and centre half paid dividends when he was able to out pace the defenders and pick out Kyte, who had busted a gut to support at the back post, which saw the little man smash the ball into the roof of the net. 3-1 rangers.....
With Windsor rarely threatening, it was hard to see how they might get back in the game. Fortunately for them, they had their "go to" main on the bench who was brought on with 25 minutes to go, armed with "that" long throw which rangers found so indefendable on the opening day. The predictable barrage of long throws into the rangers box followed with Bell in the rangers goal offered no protection from the referee. Almost inevitably, Windsor pulled a goal back when their obvious height advantage saw a Windsor defender head in a long throw from the rangers left. 3-2, game on.
Rangers were then dealt a huge blow when stand in skipper Lee Chapman hobbled off with an injury which saw the introduction of Smith up front. The pendulum seemed to have swung in the direction of Windsor who were now putting rangers under severe pressure, mainly from the long throws rifling in from as far as just inside rangers own half. Windsor were now playing to their strengths which rangers found hard to deal with. Windsor equalised with 20 to minutes to go when a corner from the rangers left was headed in by one of Windsor big men, a goal which clearly knocked the stuffing out of the red and blacks. To make matters worse, the unfortunate Dan Chapman headed a Windsor long throw into his own net a few minutes later after being put under pressure by a Windsor man. All of a sudden, the game had been turned on its head, 4-3 Windsor.
A change in shape saw rangers go three at the back with Sullivan being asked to join Smith and Hardie up front while Ward pushed on to the right wing. Rangers had a half chance to equalise when a cross towards Kyte at the back post was blasted marginally over by the little man, who was on a hatrick. Rangers continued to push but as ever, pushing on can leave teams vulnerable on the break and this instance would be no different when the Windsor left winger burst down his flank, cut inside and despatched an unstoppable drive past Bell into the top corner to seal the game for Windsor with the goal of the game. 5-3 and game over.
This was a devastating defeat for rangers who controlled most of the game with some excellent passing football at times, a rangers strength. Until Windsor's first substitution, it was hard to see how Windsor would score again but their first change was an absolute game changer, no doubt about it. Rangers can hold their heads high after this performance, who on balance did not get what they deserved from the game. Ultimately, Windsor played to their strengths better than rangers, albeit for 25 minutes, so some credit must go to them.
Next week sees rangers play the only team below them in the league, Ninfield United II. Anything other than a win in this game should be deemed as an utter catastrophe.
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...