Eastbourne Rangers made in three wins from three, albeit in a below par performance, against AFC Hastings. There were two changes from the team that demolished Wadhurst 9-0 seven days previous which saw Tony Derese come in for Kirk Ferguson and Dan Wilkes return after a holiday in place of the unavailable Sean Hardie.
AFC started off the brighter of the two teams with rangers uncharacteristically lacklustre in the opening exchanges. Despite this sluggish start rangers found themselves a goal up after just four minutes against the run of play. A searching ball from Rory Newby found the clever run of Ben Jesson off the shoulder of the last man. Jesson's sublime first touch took him away from the defender, who was caught on his heels, with the little maestro finishing across the keeper to give rangers a one goal lead.
AFC made themselves a cluster of half chances, the best chance being well saved by Martin Bell at his near post from a long range effort. Rangers still weren't quite at their best but did manage to double their lead on 21 minutes. Neat football down the rangers right inside their own half from Jesson and Green saw the latter release the former with a defence splitting ball down the flank. AFC seemed to have stopped, which was down to the timing of the run and the precise through ball. This saw Jesson race away down the rangers right with AFC allowing the rangers captain to carry the ball into the area. Despite having Jamie Strong and Matt Wheeler up in support, Jesson spotted a gap at the keepers near post and tucked the ball away for his second of the afternoon.
At the interval it was felt that rangers were fortunate to be two goals up after AFC had acquitted themselves well and troubled the red and blacks for a proportion of the first half.
A minute into the second half club captain Aaron Filsell replaced Lee Chapman in central midfield, Chapman straining a hamstring. Rangers slightly improved in the second half and it was clear superior fitness would play its part for the remainder of the game. Rangers calved open numerous chances to wrap up the game but poor finishing gave AFC continued hope. AFC had two glorious opportunities of their own to get back in the game. A long range shot was spilled by Bell and the AFC number 9 somehow hit the post from just three yards out. The second chance was an indirect freekick in the rangers box after Greg Manton was bizarrely adjudged to have obstructed an AFC player who ran into him. From the freekick, Manton made amends by throwing his body on the line by blocking the point plank shot with the most sensitive part of his body.....!
Rangers eventually sealed the game with twenty minutes to go when Jamie Strong latched on to a bouncing ball 25 yards from goal. The rangers marksman saw the AFC keeper of his line and produced a lob on sublime class to notch his fourth league goal of the season. This saw rangers make their third change of the afternoon with Harry Rimmer replacing Green at full back.
AFC had now visibly given up and rangers were now keeping the ball much better now that the game was won. With 12 minutes to go rangers added a fourth goal created in a more typical fashion. The ball was moved quickly through the midfield and eventually Strong was released. He combined well with Wilkes who supplied the final pass which gave Strong an easy finish to wrap up what turned out to be a comfortable three points.....in the end.
Despite not being at their best, the rangers players were still able to pull off a commendable scoreline as well as three points. But performance levels will almost certainly have to improve when they play their next game in two weeks time in a top of the table clash at Sidley United. What was pleasing though was another clean sheet from the back five, and with this in mind, the Seaside Cafe MOM was awarded to Rory Newby who just shaded out his partner, Greg Manton.
Rangers would particularly like to thank Ricky Curran who gave up his afternoon to run the line for the team - top work Rick, and thank you.
This win sees rangers maintain a two point gap at the summit of ESFL division one after taking maximin points in their opening three games. Rangers now have two training sessions to prepare for the tough challenge of Sidley United on the 3rd October.
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...