Rangers ESFL team welcomed division one side Bexhill AAC I to the sports park 3G this week with rangers expecting a very tough game with the higher ranked outfit. Rangers reshuffled the pack again, showing the squads superb versatility. Martin Bell was looking to add to his ever growing stack do clean sheets, and charged to help him was Steve Green and Luke Barber at right and left back respectively while in the heart of the rangers defence skipper Dave Bennett-Tomlin was partnered by Dan Chapman. Ben Jesson was again utilised in central midfield in the absence to Tony Derese with Lee Chapman pairing up with Jesson in the rangers engine room. Dan Wilkes and Matt Wheeler were given the green light to provide the rangers width on the wings while Connor Sullivan partnered top scorer Jamie Strong up front. Rangers welcomed back Aaron Filsell back to the fold after some time away, but he could only make the substitutes bench along with Sean Hardie and Jamie Baker-Beall.
Rangers showed their intent from the first kick of the game, every player was eager to move the ball quickly and willing to close down every Bexhill player across the pitch to win the ball back. Rangers dominated the early minutes of the half with some tidy play, with Bexhill only getting in and around the rangers area from a set piece which rangers number one Bell dealt with superbly. Midway thorough the half, Wheeler was released, cutting in from the right flank, and rushed towards goal with just the keeper to beat. The keeper made a superb stop only for Wheeler to react quickest by picking up the loose ball in the area. A Bexhill defender made a very rash challenge, and over went Wheeler.....penalty. There was not a Balotelli moment in this game as Strong took the ball and confidently converted the spot kick to give rangers a well deserved lead.
A few minutes later, the Bexhill keeper made another great one on one stop to deny rangers doubling their lead. Nine minutes before the break, a rangers corner was swung into the box with Jesson rising the highest to meet the ball. The ball was goal bound and looked to have crossed the line but the man on the post was adjudged to have cleared the ball before it had crossed the goalline, despite his standing foot being over the line with the defender also facing his own goal. A strange one, but hopefully this wouldn't cost rangers in the long run.
Rangers went in at the interval one goal to the good when it quite possibly should have been at least three. The management team were keen to convey that any lapse of concentration with just a one goal cushion could cost the red and blacks dearly.
Bexhill changed their shape in the second period to combat rangers and also rejigged their players, most notably their right back moving to centre forward. But seven minutes into the second half, rangers doubled their lead. Wheeler fed the ball to Sullivan who was 25 yards from goal. Sullivan pulled the trigger from distance with his goal bound effort taking a wicked deflection off of a defender which saw the ball loop over the stranded Bexhill keeper to give rangers some welcomed breathing space, 2-0. Filsell was then brought on for Lee Chapman who had picked up a minor knock.
With twenty minutes left on the clock, the away side gave themselves a mountain to climb when the Bexhill number 11 went needlessly through the back of Barber way over on the far touchline. After already having been booked in the first half, it was no surprise the Bexhill man was giving his second yellow card of the game, hence reducing the visitors to ten men. This saw Hardie replace a tiring Wilkes on the rangers left hand side.
Rangers were now in complete control of the game and looked to use their advantage in all areas of the pitch, with keep-ball being the main feature of the remaining minutes. Baker-Beall then replaced Sullivan who had worked tirelessly all afternoon. On 72 minutes, Strong doubled his tally for the match to give rangers an unassailable three goal cushion after some more neat work by wheeler down the right. Moments later, a break from Green saw him feed the ball to Wheeler down the right hand channel. Wheelers first time cross was met by the stooping head of Baker-Beall which tucked the ball nicely into the bottom corner, a superb goal - keeper had no chance.
With the stuffing well and truly knocked out of Bexhill, both teams were very pleased to hear the final whistle as rangers booked their place in their first ever league cup final. The whole squad were superb, from back to front, with everybody playing their part which saw the MOM not awarded as a result. This is the first time this season that Bexhill AAC I have conceded four goals, and it could well have been more.....
Rangers will have to wait to find out who their opponents will be as the other semi final fell victim to the weather today between Wadhurst United and Old Hastonians. The preliminary date for the cup final is Monday 20th April at Little Common, this will be confirmed in due course.
Next week rangers look to defend the Eastbourne FA Junior cup in another semi final where Sovereign Saints await.
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...