After a week off following their week 1 victory, the Mid Sussex team were itching to get back into action. An away trip to Keymer gave them the opportunity to back up their good start with another 3 points. With Mike Pickard and Josh Kyte stepping up to the East Sussex team and Julian Waters and Ricky Curran stepping down, the side had a bit of a different look about it. Also loaned to the East Sussex team was assistant manager Grant Smith, to help out in the absence of their gaffer Marc McKay and also to provide cover for keeper Martin Bell who was recovering from a shoulder injury.
Preparations for the game were thrown into complete chaos, as what should have been a straight forward journey over to Hassocks became a nightmare due to an accident on the A27, which caused huge delays. This meant that the majority of players didn’t get to the ground until 10 minutes before the scheduled kick off time. Things weren’t helped by the very unsympathetic referee informing everybody that if the game didn’t kick off by 2.15pm then Rangers would forfeit the game. This meant a very quick change and out on the pitch without a proper team talk and no real warm up. With Waters and Noble not even making it in time for kick off due to the traffic, Rangers lined up with debutant Richard Spooner in goal, Nic Jones and captain Dan Harmer at centre back flanked by Tom Tribe and Aaron Saunders at right and left back respectively. After having all his wisdom teeth out on the Monday, Saunders wasn’t really fit to play, but had come along to be the 3rd sub just in case of injuries. However due to Waters not making it in time, he found himself having to start and to his credit he managed to last the whole of the 1st half, which was a great effort. In midfield Ricky Curran was partnered by Harry Rimmer, whose brother Alex took up station on the left wing, while the returning Dean Pugh slotted in on the right. Up top Luke Davies was tasked to play just behind front man Joe Horton. When they did arrive Waters & Noble filled the bench, along with Tom De Planta who was making his first competitive appearance for over a year.
As was to be expected Rangers started the slower of the two teams, and for the first 10 minutes they looked to keep possession, slow the game down and get as many touches as possible just in order to warm up properly and get up to speed. Having successfully negotiated the difficult early part of the game, Rangers started to settle down and get into the game. Keymer looked a threat on the break, as they had a bit of pace further up the pitch, but at the back they were struggling to contain the red & blacks. Down the left wing Rangers were looking particularly dangerous, as the younger Rimmer was beating the full back regularly with his electric pace. The pressure was starting to build and Rangers actually had the ball in the back of the net through Davies, only to be denied by the referee who apparently saw a flag from the linesman even though no one else on the pitch did, including the linesman! Shortly afterwards the red & blacks spurned a golden chance when the keeper could only parry a Horton shot into the path of Alex Rimmer who looked to have a simple tap in to open the scoring. Unfortunately his shot went straight at the keeper who was able to block it, a yard either side would surely have seen the net bulge. He made amends before too long though when his brother Harry picked up the ball in his own half and threaded a great pass between the centre backs. Alex turned on the after burners and outpaced the trailing defenders before finishing well past the keeper.
At this stage Rangers looked to be in control and comfortable. However not long after a defensive lapse saw the ball given away, leading to a quick Keymer break which saw their striker capitalise on Rangers not being compact enough as he broke through down the right channel and fired past Spooner into the far corner. The red & blacks continued to press, and got their rewards when after good build up play down the right, Pugh played a good ball into the box to Horton whose tidy finish made it 2-1. But once again Rangers were their own worst enemies, as instead of keeping it tight and holding onto the lead for a while, they gifted Keymer a goal and let them back in the game again. This time the ball was lost near the edge of the Rangers box, allowing their striker to break through and shoot, Spooner managed to get a hand on the ball, but couldn’t stop the rebound falling back to the striker for an easy tap in. With the half time whistle going shortly afterwards, the red & blacks were very frustrated as they had twice let Keymer back in the game when they probably should have been 3 or 4 goals to the good. The opposition however went into the break in high spirits, feeling that they were still in the game when they probably shouldn’t have been.
At half time gaffer Nick Stevenson was keen to stress that Rangers had dominated much of the game so far, but needed to be tighter and more compact when defending and if they took the lead again to make sure the game was killed off. He also made a change to 4-4-2, with Davies pushing right up with Horton to really test out a shaky looking Keymer defence. With Saunders having run himself into the ground, Waters came on to start the 2nd half alongside Harry Rimmer in the centre of the park, with Curran moving to left back.
In the early stages of the half neither side was really able to get a grip on the game, although Rangers still looked more dangerous going forward. Eventually they did manage to regain the lead again when Davies used his strength and skill to hold off a couple of defenders and thread a ball through to Horton in the box. As he bore down on goal he seemed to be fouled by a combination of the advancing keeper and the covering defender, however he somehow managed to get a shot off which found its way over the stranded keeper and into the net. Not the most eye catching of goals, but definitely what was needed at the time.
The red & blacks managed to keep Keymer out this time, although they rode their luck a bit on occasions, with Spooner being forced into making a couple of good saves. However they were still struggling to really put the game to bed, and at 3-2 were never comfortable. This led to the gaffer introducing Noble in place of Davies with 20 minutes to go, in the hope that his pace would be too much for the tiring Keymer defence to handle. Eventually they did get the fourth goal that they were seeking, but it took a bit of magic from Harry Rimmer to get it. He picked up the ball in midfield and drove forward beating a couple of opposition players in the process, and once he got within range he unleashed a fierce shot which cannoned off the crossbar. He was maybe slightly fortunate that the ball rebounded back to but he made sure the second time as he dropped a shoulder to create a bit of space, before smashing the ball into the top corner. A peach of a goal, and it finally seemed to settle the red & blacks down, and more importantly took the fight out of Keymer.
Rangers made their final change as De Planta came on for Tribe at right back for the final 10 minutes. Not long afterwards Noble put an exclamation point on things when he ran onto a ball from Pugh and duly finished past the keeper into the far corner for his first goal of the season. Rangers saw out the rest of the game comfortably, and when the final whistle went they could reflect on a hard earned 3 points. They weren’t at their fluent best, but to go away and get a win after only arriving at the ground just before kick-off and not being able to warm up properly is very commendable. Also dealing with a bobbly pitch and a very poor referee on top of everything else made it a good afternoon’s work in the end. Man of the match was awarded to Harry Rimmer (who just shaded it from Nic Jones and Joe Horton) due to his goal, assist and tireless running in midfield.
Next up the Mid Sussex team play their first ever competitive home game, when they will face a tough test against Sporting Elite II from Crawley, who are immediately above Rangers in the table on goals scored. The red & blacks will be looking to kick on from their two away wins, and hopefully move further up the division.
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...