Rangers ESFL team travelled to Bognor this week to face The Unicorn in the Sussex Junior Cup. The long trip thankfully ran smoothly with the whole squad arriving 20 minutes before the opposition, one hour and twenty minutes before kick off. Rangers were hoping to transfer their league form in to the cup format, league form which had seen the red and blacks win three games from three, cementing their place at the top of the division two table.
With both rangers squad at full stretch this week due to numerous absentees, the ESFL team had to enlist manager Marc McKay to make the numbers up on the bench. Matt Wheeler came through 90 minutes with the MSFL team seven days previous but this was only enough to see him take a seat amongst the substitutes with debutant Aaron Filsell who had signed just 48 hours prior to the game.
The rangers starting XI saw ever improving Martin Bell take the gloves while for the third game in succession, the management team elected to start with a very settled back four. Steve Green and Luke Barber were given the green light at right and left back respectively while shoring up the middle was skipper Dave Bennett-Tomlin and Mike Pickard. After coming on and scoring as a second half substitute last week, Sean Hardie got the nod on the right wing while Dan Wilkes maintained his spot on the left. Rangers welcomed vice skipper Lee Chapman back into the rangers engine room, and another rangers substitute from last week in the form of Tony Derese was tasked to partner him in centre midfield. Up front saw the ever present and impressive Ben Jesson (who was fresh from opening his account last weekend) with Connor Sullivan finally given the chance to start alongside him.
Rangers started off the sharpest of the two sides and looked a threat on a few occasions before Lee Chapman opened the scoring after five minutes. The goal itself optimised how far rangers have already come this season. Playing out from the back, the ball was switched from left to right on half way. A combination of Green, Chapman and Hardie down the right flank was too much for the home side to handle with Hardie finding Chapman with a neat pass which Chapman slotted past the helpless keeper from ten yards out. 1-0 rangers. A superb team goal.
The home side then upped their game and were edging the game based on territory but rangers had the upper hand with the amount of clear cut chances made with Sullivan and Wilkes coming close as did Derese with a 30 yard thunderbolt which stung the keepers hands. But at one nil, there was still much work to be done and the home side began to sense a way back into the game when Bell was forced to beat away a dangerous cross which fired across the box. Moments later rangers doubled their lead on the stroke of half time which was in all honesty, against the run of play at this point of the game. A quick break from Green who drove through the heart of the home sides midfield set rangers on their way. Sullivan received the ball and played in Hardie down the right,who was in full stride, with the rangers wide man playing a pinpoint ball to Wilkes at the back post who gleefully smashed the ball home. 2-0 at half time.
In the main rangers had controlled the game with only a few minor forays by the home side causing the red and blacks any form of concern. The team were warned that only mistakes could cost rangers the game based on the viewing of the first half.
Rangers did not disappoint during the final forty five minutes and just a few minutes in, Hardie was rewarded when he slotted home from 14 yards out after rangers had paved the way for the flying Scotsman. 3-0. Wheeler was then introduced to the game in place of Sullivan.
Four goals then followed in seven minutes which showed rangers at their devastating best with disciplined, controlled play throughout the team which was backed up by slick, quick football in the final third. Jesson helped himself to a brace before Wheeler notched a goal at the back post in fortunate circumstances. Wheeler was then brought down in the box which saw Jesson calmly dispatch the resulting spot kick which saw him secure a very quick-fire hatrick. In the middle of all this, Green made way for Filsell in a straight swap at full back much to Greens bemusement. :-)
Rangers continued to dominate, but even though the stuffing had been well and truly knocked out of a previously stubborn Unicorn side (based on their first half performance), the home team continued to look for a goal. They came close from a set piece after Bell was forced into a sharp save from the head of a home player, Bell athletically tipping on to the bar. Rangers were like a dog with a bone though, never letting the opposition rest with superb pressing all over the pitch with Derese and Chapman in the rangers engine room leading the way. Jesson then found the back of the net again when the keeper spilled a Hardie cross at the in form strikers feet, an easy tap in for the rangers talisman. 8-0. The Unicorn were now well and truly dead on their feet.
Rangers then increased their lead through an unlikely source with a quarter of an hour left on he clock. A driving run from Chapman forced a Unicorn defender to bring Chapman down 25 yards out. Up stepped Barber who fired in the resulting free-kick into the back of the net. Just two minutes later, Jesson skinned his man down the right and whipped in great ball to the back post where Wheeler was waiting to finish first time. In the dying minutes Wheeler, who made a superb impact when he came on, threaded a ball through to Wilkes who confidently finished past the keeper to make the score 11-0 and that's how the scored stayed.
Too many people will undoubtedly question the quality of the opposition when looking in from the outside. But the reality is rangers were irrepressible today from minute one, to minute 90. A professional display with some outstanding contributions all over the pitch meaning nobody could be singled out for the MOM award on this occasion. A tough test awaits in the next round of this competition with Framfield and Blackboys I having beaten ESFL division one side Sidley United today.
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...