Eastbourne Rangers began their life in division two with a tough local derby against Windsor FC. Rangers found themselves without skipper Dave Bennett-Tomlin (holiday), brothers Dan and Lee Chapman (both on holiday), and wingers Josh Kyte (suspension) and Christian Ward (on a stag do). Therefore, Andrea Chiesa was drafted in late to the squad and took his place on the bench with Dan Harmer and Luke Davies, who could consider themselves very unlucky to have missed out. Martin Bell made his competitive debut in goal while rangers selected a back four of Ricky Curran and Mark Hymans at full back while Mike Pickard and Tom Tribe got the nod at centre half. After proving his fitness in midweek, Jules Waters captained the side and took his place in centre midfield along side Rob Anderson while Glen Noble and Conor Middleton lined up on the left and right wing respectively. This saw another competitive debut in the form of Connor Sullivan who partnered Ben Jesson up front.
This was always gong to be a difficult opening game for the triple champions and this was made even tougher when the rangers management team arrived at the sports park to find themselves disappointed at the pitch allocated, mainly due to it's lack of width which would both hinder rangers attacking options but enhance Windsor's main weapon of a lightening, flat throw-in.
Rangers found themselves a goal down in the opening two minutes when rangers fell asleep and let Windsor take a short corner. The cross that followed was of a decent quality which was duly headed home by a Windsor man to GIFT them an early lead. Rangers were finding it difficult to play against a well drilled and organised Windsor side who stuck to their gameplan throughout. Most of the opening 20 minutes saw rangers on the back foot in their own half with the rangers back four trying to play out from the back without much success, which was mainly due to Windsor pressuring at the right time and due to some poor rangers passing.
On 22 minutes Windsor doubled their lead from a weapon that will trouble most sides this season. A long, bullet like throw was arrowed in to the rangers box where a goal mouth scramble ensued. After the ball hit the bar, bobbled around the rangers goal line (and did the Hokey Cokey) a Windsor man was on hand to stab the ball beyond the frantic Bell. 2-0 Windsor.
Rangers were shell shocked and had not yet really been in the game. The Windsor back line was strong and organised and strikers Jesson and Sullivan were mainly working off scraps. The best rangers could muster in the opening exchanges were a couple of corners which were dealt with easily by the Windsor defence. A few minutes before half time and rangers received a hammer blow. Another bullet-like throw from the rangers left found a Windsor man piggy-backing Pickard at the BACK POST (that's both how small the pitch was and how BIG the throw was) with the resulting header ending up in the back of the rangers net. 3-0. Oh for a strong referee.
The half time whistle followed shortly after with rangers in uncharted waters. 3-0 down and not looking threatening. Rangers decision making had been poor at times but credit must be given to the opposition for the way they set their stall out. A rarity at half time with the rangers starting 11 getting a complete roasting at the interval, with all reminded that three subs were chumping at the bit to cross that white line.
The opening exchanges of the second half saw Anderson replaced by Harmer within 5 minutes due to an injury Anderson had received in a poor challenge in the closing stages of the first 45 minutes. Harmers extra height and physical presence bolstered the rangers midfield only to see rangers forced in to another change moments later with Davies replacing Hymans (due to injury) which saw Davies form a front three with Jesson and Sullivan while Pickard, Tribe and Curran became a back 3. This enforced change saw rangers improve (although the change in formation was imminent regardless of injury) slightly with Davies strength now aiding rangers quest to retain the ball. With Windsor only playing a lone striker this enhanced rangers numbers in more advanced areas. However, chances and breaks were few and far between.
With 25 minutes to go, Chiesa came on for a hobbling Waters which saw Chiesa move into the back three while Curran moved to the right wing which saw Middleton move into the centre of midfield. Rangers new shape was now making them a tad more competitive and with 20 minutes to go, they were given a slight glimmer of hope. Jesson was put through into the channel between right back and centre half on a rare rangers counter attack. After squaring up the defender in the area, Jesson picked out an on rushing Noble who finished first time into the Windsor top corner. 3-1 and game on...?
There was now added belief to rangers play who were now looking more menacing when coming forward. Curran saw a long range header sail just over the bar while a cross from the rangers right almost found Noble at the back post who would have had a tap in if the ball hadn't marginally evaded him. The next goal was crucial but unfortunately it didn't go to rangers. With the triple champions now pushing for another goal, inevitably gaps would appear. Windsor won the ball in midfield and after a quick one -two with a team mate, the Windsor man pierced through the middle of the rangers defence and made no mistake with an accomplished finish for his own personal hatrick, a stake through the heart for so many reasons!! 4-1 Windsor.
And that's the way it stayed. A disappointing start for the red and blacks with many contributing factors conspiring against them including both the strength(s) of the opposition and the on the day weaknesses of rangers. It should be stressed that nothing should be taken away from Windsor who were organised and dominant throughout, especially in the first 65 minutes.
After having it all their own way for three seasons, now is the time to RISE. Now is the time for each and every ranger to be PROUD to wear the shirt. And now is the time to pull together more than ever before to make things RIGHT. This opportunity comes in just 7 days time when rangers face rivals Herstmonceux with the defeat that ceux inflicted on rangers in the cup final last year still fresh in the minds of everyone associated with the club. With some welcomed personnel returning next week, and with those that played today determined to put things right, ceux can expect one hell of a game!!!
To all the doubters that are wondering why we skipped a league from division 4 to division 2, this is just one league game of 20 of a long old season. Don't be too quick to judge as this rangers squad is capable of great things.
FORTES FORTUNA ADIUVAT
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...