The rangers ESFL team travelled to bottom side Wadhurst United where they were looking to carry on their recent run of improved form. The rangers management had one of the strongest squads to choose from in months, and on arrival to Washwell Lane, it was apparent that the hosts were in similar shape.
Martin Bell lined up between the sticks with Greg Manton and Rory Newby paired at centre half. After showing his versatility two games ago, Lee Chapman got the nod at right back with Carl Kenward lining up on the opposite side. Rangers had pacemen Matt Wheeler and Dylan Nanuck on the flanks with skipper Ben Jesson and enforcer Tony Derese in central midfield. For the first period, where rangers were kicking up the slope, rangers employed a fifth man in midfield in the form of Sean Hardie which left recent signing Mark Warren to toil away up front on his own. Rangers boasted a strong bench of Dan Wilkes, Connor Sullivan and Kyle Daines.
From the kick of it was plain to see the slope would have a major impact on the shape of the game. The hosts had a couple of chances to take an early lead but wayward finishing ensured Bell was not called into action. With 24 minutes gone, Jesson was ploughed down by two men in the United area only for the referee to unbelievably wave play on. The Wadhurst keeper was called into action on a few occasions, most notably an effort from Hardie, which saw the home number one save smartly to his top right hand side. Despite shading the game, rangers uncharacteristically lacked tempo in their build up play, which was possibly down to a bit of rustiness due to the extended winter break.
Seven minutes before half time, Wadhurst took the lead. The home left winger somehow danced through three rangers challenges outside the box but was brought down by the fourth challenge which was well inside the rangers area. Up stepped the United centre forward who confidently gave Wadhurst the lead.
At half time, the key words were “don’t panic” and the call for a higher tempo all over the pitch was made. A scheduled change in formation also saw Hardie push higher up the pitch to join Warren up front which would give the home defence something else to worry about.
Rangers burst out of the blocks and threatened the Wadhurst goal on numerous occasions with the home keeper making some superb saves; this combined with some last ditch defending kept rangers at bay until the 58th minute. A ball from the rangers left saw panic ensue in the Wadhurst area. A rushed clearance broke to Wheeler 12 yards out whose deflected shot crept past the keeper to bring rangers deservedly level.
Six minutes later Wadhurst failed to clear their lines again, this time from a rangers corner where the ball eventually fell to Manton on the right hand side of the box. A dip of the shoulder took him past his man and he squared the ball up to Jesson who fired past the keeper to give rangers what looked like an inevitable lead.
With 20 minutes to go Hardie made way for Wilkes who joined Warren up front. Immediatley after the change was made, great work from Wheeler down the right saw his cross find Wilkes who slotted home with his first touch to give rangers a 3-1 lead. This was to be Wilkes first but not last contribution of the game. Moments later rangers made their final changes with Sullivan replacing Warren and Daines replacing Chapman in straight swaps.
Similar to Wilkes, Sullivan was to make an immediate impact. Sullivan burst through on goal after latching on to a neat through ball, and with only the keeper to beat, he unselfishly squared the ball up to Wilkes who tapped in for his second goal in four minutes…4-1 rangers. But Sullivan and Wilkes weren’t quite done there and on 79 minutes, Sullivan was supplier again when Wilkes rounded of a crazy 8 minute hatrick which bamboozled the home side into submission.
There was still time for one more goal with 7 minutes left on the clock, by now the home players were tired and bickering amongst themselves. In a role reversal of Wilkes opening goal, Wilkes supplied an inch perfect ball to Wheeler who finished with aplomb which rounded off a superb afternoon for W&W, and more importantly for the team. 6-1 was the final score and after a much improved second half display, it could well have been more.
There were many contenders for MOM with every player having a good game, but Greg Manton was given the accolade for the second time this season for a commanding and calm performance in the rangers backline.
Next week rangers are hoping to make it four wins on the trot when they welcome AFC Hastings to the Sports Park 3g in a 1pm kick off.
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...