After claiming victory seven days ago without kicking a ball, rangers ESFL team faced what was expected to be their toughest league test yet as they welcomed The JC Tackleway to the sports park. An unofficial pitch inspection 24 hours prior to kick off left the game in some doubt, but remarkably the powers that be deemed the playing surface suitable for use on the morning of the game.
Rangers lined up with Martin Bell in goal with regular full backs Steve Green and Luke Barber filling the right and left berths respectively. Skipper Dave Bennett-Tomlin was partnered by ESFL debutant Josh Flaherty who had impressed 7 days previous for the rangers MSFL team. With many central midfield options unavailable, the rangers management team opted to partner Tony Derese with the ever impressive Aaron Filsell, while on the wings, Matt Wheeler and Connor Sullivan got the green light. Top scorer Jamie Strong was partnered up front by the powerful Jamie Baker-Beall who was looking to open his rangers account. The options on the rangers bench consisted of Dan Wilkes, Ricky Blanks and Steve Reeves.
Immediately from the kick off it was clear the visitors were playing with a back three, no doubt to try and make use of an extra man in midfield. This provided plenty of space for the rangers paceman on the wings, and with Derese and Filsell coping well against the extra man in the centre, rangers were hoping this advantage would pay dividends by the end of the game. Tackleway had the first half chance early on when their top scorer turned on the edge of the box and fired a left foot effort narrowly wide of Bells goal. The rangers back for took fifteen minutes to settle with the new partnership of Flaherty and Bennett-Tomlin eventually settling into a good rhythm and understanding.
Twenty minutes into the first half rangers carved open two openings with some outstanding football. A spell of good possession and incisive passes saw Green find Filsell in the middle of the park. Filsells first time ball released Wheeler down the right who exploded into the Tackleway box. Wheelers shot was closed down and saved by the keeper, and with the rebounding ball spiralling into the air, Wheelers attempted bicycle kick arrowed narrowly wide of the goal. Moments later, more possessional dominance from rangers saw a cut back from Wheeler placed agonisingly over the bar by Strong from just inside the area.
Derese found himself in the book on 22 minutes for something he said to the referee after being penalised for a foul on the opposition deep in the rangers half. From the resulting freekick, rangers broke away with a clearance finding Sullivan on half way. The rangers man outpaced the approaching centre half, calmly slotting past the he keeper to give the red and blacks a very valuable lead. 1-0.
Tackelway seemed eager to get back into the game as soon as possible and quickly looked to press for the equaliser, with long balls over the left back area mopped up well by Bennett-Tomlin. Anything through the middle or in Bells range saw the keeper command in, and outside of his area with aplomb while Flaherty was a tower of strength both in the air and on the deck. Rangers were able to see off the Tackleway advances and doubled their lead on 37 minutes. Strong picked up the ball on the left hand side of the area, cut inside and shot low into the bottom corner, where maybe the keeper should have done better. 2-0 rangers.
At half time rangers were in a buoyant mood but were reminded that the next goal in the game was absolutely crucial - a third for rangers would in affect kill the game off, however a goal for Tackelway would mean.... Game on.
Early in the second half, Derese slipped and caught a Tackelway midfielder who stayed on his feet and was given the advantage to play on. Derese, rather unfortunately, found himself on a final warning from the referee which saw Blanks replace the towering Belgian shortly after with the rangers management team taking no chances. On 55 minutes, Strong nearly found a third for rangers after cutting in again from the left, but this time his shot fired narrowly wide of the far post. Three minutes later, Strong's strike partner finally got off the mark in a rangers shirt. Barbers deep cross from the left saw Baker-Beall rise the highest at the back post to head expertly across the keeper and into the back of the net - a goal all the rangers players had enjoyed and celebrated due to Baker-Bealls contributions in previous games going unrewarded on a personal level. 3-0 rangers.
Baker-Beall was then replaced by Wilkes to provide more pace behind the Tackleway back line. Green found himself in the book for a rash challenge where he seemed to win the ball, the referee electing to book the rangers man for jumping into the challenge. Rangers had been in control of the game ever since the second goal with Tackleway players becoming increasingly frustrated with themselves and the referee. This was confirmed on 65 minutes when a Tackelway player was given a straight red card for ill discipline towards the man in black. Rangers numerical advantage was nearly short lived when Green failed to hear the referees whistle and kicked the ball away. Fortunately for Green, a stern talking to and a final warning was deemed sufficient by the man in the middle.
Tackleway were able to make a couple of chances in the second half but were unable to beat Bell who firstly saved smartly at his near post on the left, and then made a double save on his opposite side to keep the rangers clean sheet in tact.
Strong had another chance to rub salt into the wound with eight minutes left of the clock, but his long range lob drifted just over the bar, the keeper stranded on the penalty spot.
Full time and rangers knew they had been in a very tough game but had come through the test well. After two weeks without a game, the whole team had been superb with debutant Josh Flaherty excellent at the heart of the rangers defence. The man of the match award went to Aaron Filsell who didn't stop running all afternoon, was defensively sound and also linked up play from defence to attack superbly.
This was rangers tenth straight victory in all competitions, a win which has confirmed rangers as the only team in the East Sussex league to win every game in all competitions this season. This is also a club record run without defeat, a superb achievement by everyone involved.
Next week, rangers welcome Wittersham to the sports park where a semi final spot in the league cup is up for grabs, 1.30pm kick off.
See you all there.
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...