Eastbourne Rangers secured safe passage through to the last 16 of the Sussex FA Intermediate Cup after a solid and professional display against a tough TD Shipley side, who play their football in the WSFL Premier Division. With two withdrawals from the squad just hours before kick-off, it seemed that this would be a difficult day for Rangers who have had availability issues from the first kick of the 2016/17 campaign.
After a last minute switch of pitches to ensure the game could go ahead, the game actually kicked off nearly 25 minutes late due to a pitch inspection taking place.
It was TD that started of the brighter of the two sides and it was clear to see they were keen to impose themselves physically, particularly via the number 14 up front. After numerous niggly challenges from the TD front man, the referee decided he’d had enough after just 11 minutes and added the strikers name to his book. Despite the away sides decent start, they had failed to test Andy Albon in the Rangers goal and this gave the home side great encouragement after looking defensively sound for the opening 20 minutes.
It was Rangers that took the lead after 24 minutes, arguably against the run of play and most definitely supplied by a most unlikely source. After seeing off a TD Shipley attack, Greg Manton burst clear with the ball inside his own half. After exchanging passes with late call up Josh Kyte on the left wing just past half way, Manton continued his run into the penalty and he cut the ball back to Dylan Nanuck who finished neatly at the back post to give Rangers the lead.
The onus was now on the away side to come at Rangers, and this combined with the Shipley dangerous high line was sure to make the remainder of the contest an entertaining one. The Shipley number 14 managed to acquire a free kick on the edge of the penalty area in what was a very dangerous position. He stepped up to take it himself but Albon was equal to the task and pushed the ball away comfortably to safety. And this was to be Shipley’s only effort on target all game.
At the break Rangers were happy with their work so far but knew they would be in for a tough battle to see the result through.
The second half saw Rangers manage the game superbly. Solid and resolute in defence marshalled by Manton and Tony Derese with Carl Kenward and Brad Meredith seeing off threats down the flanks, while Tony Russell and in particular Ben Barnett were influential in midfield breaking down numerous TD attacks. Matt Haydock was holding up the ball well up front and it was his cross that nearly found Nanuck at the back post after Haydock had broken through the defensive line. Rangers were now getting a lot of joy with Nanuck down the Rangers right hand side and it looked only a matter of time before the pace in the Rangers side would see them home, with the high press of Luke Regan, Haydock, Kyte and Nanuck too much for the away side to handle who looked shaky when pressed.
Rangers made a change on the hour with Kent Meier, who had been out for 8 weeks with injury, replaced Kyte on the left hand side. On 71 minutes Rangers doubled their lead. Russell picked up a loose ball in midfield and from 30 yards out, he curled the ball with the putside of his right foot past the away keeper who was caught in no man’s land. 2-0 Rangers, a sublime goal.
A double change then saw Shaun Evans and Mark Haydock replace Matt Haydock and Luke Regan, both of whom had put in an excellent shift. Evans made an impact after just 9 minutes of his introduction when he broke through the high defensive line. With only the keeper to beat, the keeper came out on top after Evans first effort but the Rangers man coolly lifted his second attempt over the keeper and into the roof of the net with just 10 minutes to go. 3 nil and Rangers were now home and dry….
The icing on the proverbial cake came with just four minutes left on the clock with arguably the goal of the game. After winning the ball just inside his own half, Barnett raced clear of the now infamous TD high line. Bearing down on goal with just the keeper to beat, Barnett’s audacious chip from 25 yards sailed into the top corner to round off a superb day for Rangers.
This was an excellent defensive display with the back 4 and defensive midfielders key in giving the attacking four licence to go forward. A key factor at the back was the return of Manton who was influential throughout but the Old Dave’s Gourmet Burger Co. MOM was awarded to Ben Barnett – a dogged and tireless display in the middle and a great goal to cap it off.
In the next round, Rangers face a challenging but exciting trip to Jarvis Brook of SCFL Division 2 on Saturday 12th December.
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...