Eastbourne Rangers progressed to the semi final of the Eastbourne Junior cup after recording a tight victory against local rivals Herstmonceux. Rangers went into the game missing centre halves Greg Manton and Rory Newby due to injury while Dan Chapman, who provides cover at centre half, was also unavailable. This saw Lee Chapman joined by MSFL vice captain Kyle Daines at the heart of the rangers defence, Daines having put in some outstanding performances in previous weeks. In complete contrast to the centre half conundrum, regular and ever present full backs Steve Green and Carl Kenward started their ninth consecutive game as did the ever dependable Martin Bell between the sticks. Due to the appalling conditions rangers opted for a five man midfield which saw rangers skipper Ben Jesson joined by towering Belgian Tony Derese and the quick footed Sean Hardie. The rangers wings were filled by the unpredictable Connor Sullivan on the left and pacey Matty Wheeler on the right while top scorer Dan Wilkes was tasked with leading the line on his own. The rangers bench was made up of Jamie Strong, Brad Meredith, Dylan Nanuck and Luke Davies.
With the rain showing no sign of letting up the game managed to get under way after a minutes silence was respectfully held for all those affected by events in Paris. Herstmonceux had set up with a 4-4-2 formation which had served them well all season but the extra man in the rangers midfield was beginning to tell, even early on. The Herstmonceux back line were well organised and played a high line, a line which caught willing runner Wilkes offside of numerous occasions.
It was the home side that drew first blood in the 15th minute with what turned out to be the goal of the game. The ball dropped to Ash Hawkins twenty-five yards from goal and his curling rocket nestled into the top corner of the rangers net, leaving Bell with absolutely no chance. 1-0 ceux.
Moments later, rangers responded. Jesson latched on to a through ball deep inside the Herstmonceux area and was hauled to the ground - the referee pointed to the spot booking the home captain in the process. The only surprise was that the rangers skipper didn't take it himself with usual penalty taker Strong on the rangers bench. But Wilkes has been in good form, and after grabbing the ball, he made no mistake with the spot kicking although the keeper got a good hand to the ball. 1-1.
With conditions worsening, tackles were now flying in. Phil Broom picked up a yellow card after leaving the boot in rather clumsily while Todd Seavers could consider himself very lucky to have stayed on the pitch after a horrific lunge on Green, with only a yellow card being produced. Moments later, Jesson made a superb one footed tackle only to find himself in the book due to his follow through in the ever deteriorating conditions.
Just before the half hour mark, rangers took the lead with the celebration of better quality than the goal. An attack down the ceux right saw Wilkes find Wheeler at the back post after an almighty scramble in the area. Wheeler duly buried the ball into the corner via the post which sparked an incredible celebration from the pair who pulled out Spider-Man masks from their socks. After applying the masks, they then ran over to the rangers bench sliding on there knees firing imaginary webs from their hands, due to the amusement of most of the spectators...... 2-1 rangers. :-)
On the stroke of half time the celebrations were short lived. Ceux were awarded a dubious corner and in typical fashion punished poor rangers defending. A slip from Jesson saw a free header on the edge of the area find another unmarked home player six yards out. He's square pass found the on rushing Ricky Roberts who smashed the ball home, 2-2.
At half time, both managers and captains were called over by the referee. With both teams fearing the worse, and the centre circle being swept due to the water at half time, the referee merely asked for calm from both sets of players who had let the occasion get to them in the first forty five minutes.
Just ten minutes into the second half rangers regained the lead. This time, an attack down the Herstmonceux right was effective for rangers and in a role reversal of rangers second goal, Wheeler found Wilkes completely unmarked at the back post who slid the ball home to give rangers a 3-2 lead.
This saw Strong replace Hardie with rangers keen to make use of the rolling substitution rule. Strong had two glorious opportunities to put the game to bed but home keeper Matt Akehurst saved one on one on both occasions to keep rangers at bay. Another two saves by the home keeper, the first a tip over the bar from a Derese header, the second a stop from a Sullivan long range effort, helped keep ceux in the game. Rangers made more changes with Nanuck on for the tiring Sullivan, Hardie returning to the fold for Wilkes and Meredith replacing Green who withdrew unwell. Rangers then lost Chapman due to injury which saw Derese slot in at centre half and Davies slot into central midfield with Jesson and Hardie, Strong the Lone Ranger up front.
Ceux's Todd Seavers then received a second yellow card, this time for dissent which now gave the home team a real mountain to climb. The extra man and space on the flanks almost paid dividends straight away with Nanuck racing away down the right, but a slightly heavy first touch saw the ceux keeper close down the angle and usher the rangers man wide and off the pitch for a goal kick.
Ceux were now trying to throw everything at rangers will a real sense of urgency in their play. That said, Bell in the rangers goal didn't have a goal bound effort to stop with his handling second to none in tricky conditions - his catching, punching and mopping up all quite superb.
Rangers held on for the win, and although the game could have gone either way due to the tightness of the result, rangers will look back on missed opportunities in the second half which could have seen a more convincing scoreline. Every ranger put in a magnificent shift but the Seaside Cafe MOM was awarded to Kyle Daines who stepped up to the plate seamlessly. Our thanks to Daines for helping out and also to Nanuck, Meredith and Davies who all took the same "one club" approach. Also, our thanks to Steve Thompson, Rory Newby and Bobby Allen who came down to support when a day at home could have been more appealing. And extended thanks to our latest "of the field" signing Nick Parrett who ran the line impeccably for the full 90 minutes.
Rangers will now meet either Eastbourne Athletic or Parkfield in the semi finals which will likely take place in March 2016. No game scheduled for rangers this week, but another quarter final the week after against Premier Division favourites Peche Hill Select will no doubt be a mouth-watering affair.
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...