Rangers bowed out of the Birchwood Group Challenge cup after a 2-0 quarter final away defeat to Premier Division outfit Peche Hill Select. With both teams struggling for regulars and with conditions not conducive to free flowing football, this was always going to be a tall order for the red and blacks. Rangers were without Rory Newby, Carl Kenward, Sean Hardie, Jack Findon, Remareo Tapper and Jamie Strong but the home side also had major issues themselves with a make shift back five including manager Asher Grindle taking one for his team by settling in between the sticks.
Rangers welcomed back Dan Chapman and Greg Manton to the heart of the rangers defence, both of whom hadn’t played for six and four weeks respectively. Brad Meredith was given his full ESFL debut at left back while right back Steve Green and keeper Martin Bell were the only players in the rangers back five to have played in every game this season. The rangers management opted for a five man midfield with skipper Ben Jesson, Tony Derese and Lee Chapman playing centrally while Matt Wheeler and Connor Sullivan were tasked with providing the rangers width. The in form Dan Wilkes was the lone man up front with Dylan Nanuck, Bobby Allen and Luke Davies on the bench.
Rangers started the game well but is was clear to see early on that a midfield battle would ensue for the duration of the game with towering Belgian Tony Derese at the centre of all the action. It was Derese who was involved in the first major incident of the game after he was fouled in the central area by home player Jan Bailey, with the pair squaring up to each other after they had dusted themselves down. Neither player received a booking for the incident but another Peche player did find himself in the book after needlessly running 20 yards to push Derese to the ground in the ensuing furore.
Rangers were not deterred by this and despite some over physicality from Peche, the red an blacks continued to try to play their usual passing game. Midway through the half, rangers carved open the home backline with some sublime play only for a snap shot by Wilkes to fly past the keeper and the far post for a goal kick. At the other end, Peche thought they had taken the lead when Callum Smith tucked the ball in the net from a set piece only for the goal to be ruled out for a push on a rangers defender.
After a decent enough start be rangers, Peche were slowly beginning to turn the proverbial screw with unforced errors started to become rife in the rangers ranks. Derese found himself in the book after having been adjudged to foul a Peche player, and like before, a further furore ensued with Peche players needlessly getting involved with Derese on the end of some derisory treatment – but this time the referee failed to action against the perpetrators.
On the stroke of half time saw the most telling moment of the game unfold. Home midfielder Ross Southward fired a ball into Smith on the edge of the box who headed on to the on rushing Bailey with the Number 10 coolly slotting past Bell in the rangers goal with a first time finish. 1-0 Peche Hill. There’s never a good time to concede but a minute before the break was a bitter pill to swallow.
In the dressing room at the interval, the talk was positive as the game had been in deadlock for 44 minutes with rangers more than holding their own against higher ranked opposition.
Peche thought they had doubled their lead early on in the second half when a goal bound effort (which looked to be trickling in) was needlessly tapped in by the Peche number 9 who was deemed to be in an offside position. Rangers breathed a huge sigh of relief but failed to make the home side pay for that mistake moments later when Wilkes fired straight at the keeper after bursting through one on one.
On 66 minutes Peche doubled their lead. A ball of quality was delivered into the rangers area via a freekick and Bailey bundled home at the back post to double his tally for the game to give Peche the all important two goal cushion. The rangers defence protested as they felt Bailey had not only used his arm to guide the ball in, but also fouled a rangers player in the area. Nevertheless, the goal stood…2-0.
This saw rangers ring the changes in terms of formation and personnel. Dan Chapman pulled up with hamstring trouble which saw a back three implemented with the pacey Nanuck tasked with partnering Wilkes up front. With 15 minutes left to play, Derese was withdrawn as a precaution to ensure yellow didn’t become red and was replaced by Allen which saw Lee Chapman revert to Derese’s more defensive role in midfield. The home side were now very much a threat on the break with rangers pushing men forward to force a goal. Manton was given the nod to jaunt further forward in the last 10 minutes but time and time again, rangers failed to effectively use the more direct ball meaning the threat of Manton was easily nullified by the home defence. Peche were both organised and resolute with their defending and deservedly saw the game out to a close.
On balance rangers can have no complaints about the outcome of the game. Without a recognised keeper, Peche will be very pleased to have kept rangers chances at a minimum, while on the flip side rangers will be very disappointed to have only tested the keeper once all game. Despite his second half performance curtailed by a yellow card, this weeks Seaside Café MOM was awarded to Tony Derese who had an absolute immense first half despite being clearly ear marked for some unnecessary attention throughout the game.
Next week sees rangers in Sussex Junior Cup action away to ESFL division three outfit Burwash where rangers will be looking to bounce back in style.
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...