Eastbourne Rangers travelled to Wittersham this week in the hope they could mirror their cup form in the league. Rangers were without several players for the game in the form of Glen Noble, Lee Chapman, Dan Harmer and Chris Ward. Josh Kyte was also working until the early hours of the afternoon and could only meet up with the squad at half time. This saw three enforced changes from last week with Sean Hardie, Jules Waters and Dave Bennett-Tomlin coming in for Lee Chapman, Harmer and Ward in what was otherwise an unchanged line up to the team that confidently beat Crowborough 7 days previous.
Rangers started very well with Wittersham seemingly slow at of the blocks. This was because the home side were not able to cope with either rangers formation, tactics or passing style in the opening exchanges. The opening twenty minutes rarely saw the ball venture into rangers defensive third with only long balls needing dealing with by the rangers back line. Rangers should have taken the lead after a flowing move found Hardie on the edge of the box, but the rangers man could only shoot wildly over with his weaker foot. Wittersham were finding in particularly difficult to pick up Hardie, who was always finding space in between the Wittersham back three and midfield. Connor Sullivan on the rangers left was seeing a good amount of the ball due to the slope but Sullivan’s final ball seemed to let him down a little too often.
Despite rangers early territorial dominance, the red and blacks did not force the home keeper into making a save, which was disappointing. On the half hour in a rare Wittersham attack, rangers were slow in reacting to a second ball on the edge of their 18 yard box which allowed a Wittersham man time to bring the ball down. He was subsequently fouled and a freekick was awarded. Bell had his wall lined up, but the quality of the freekick was just too good with the Wittersham no7 finding Bell’s bottom left corner. 1-0 Wittersham, against the run of play.
Rangers drew level just a few minutes later when a Sullivan cross was headed into his own net by a Wittersham defender. This was no more than rangers deserved but the triple champions fell behind again just before half time when a cross from the rangers right found the home teams no10 at the back post in space, with the danger-man bringing the ball down in a flash, and firing across Bell to restore Wittersham’s lead. Half time, 2-1.
Despite the scoreline, rangers were still well in the game with two lapses of concentration ultimately the cause of the two Wittersham goals. Kyte had now arrived which saw him join Tom Tribe among the rangers substitutes.
The second half saw rangers struggle from the restart. With several players either struggling with knocks / niggles or struggling for match fitness due to lack of availability in recent games, this inevitably saw rangers work rate drop which invited the home team back into the game in terms of both possession and territory. Too many rangers passes were now going astray which meant rangers were not a worry for the Wittersham back line. Rangers were on the back foot but not because on the Wittersham’s footballing prowess, more so because of their ability to launch 50 yard balls into dangerous positions for their attacking players to latch on too. One of these searching balls found the Wittersham right winger who had gradually found his way more into the game. In the blink of an eye, he found his way to the by-line and cut the ball back which struck the sliding Bennett-Tomlin on his arm in a very unfortunate manner. The referee immediately awarded a penalty which Bell superbly saved down to his left much to the bemusement of the Wittersham players. It was a very tame penalty but Bell still did well to guess the right way – great save. This should have spurned rangers on, but moments later the Wittersham right winger cut inside from his wing and buried a left footed shot down to Bell’s left to give the home team a two goal cushion. 3-1.
Rangers looked to respond and almost did when Rob Anderson was found free at the Wittersham back post. His shot crashed against the underside of the bar, hit the Wittersham keeper on the head, and then rebounded over the bar. Unbelievable luck for rangers. To make matters worse, a few minutes later Wittersham broke away scoring another goal with 20 minutes on the clock which all but knocked the stuffing out of rangers. Bennett-Tomlin and Sullivan made way for Tribe and Kyte which saw rangers change shape but by now the damage was already done with the changes coming far too late to impact the game. 4-1 was the final score but if it wasn’t for the MOM performance of Bell in the rangers goal, it could have been many MANY more with the rangers number one saving numerous long ranged efforts and coming out on top in a trio of one on one’s. In summary rangers were very poor in the second half but some credit should go to the home team who definitely raised their game in the second period although rangers really didn’t help themselves with misplaced passes and poor decision making. The positive from the game was rangers early dominance with the ball at their feet in the opening 25 minutes which saw some superb flowing football not rewarded. But if you don’t shoot, you don’t score – this is something rangers need to take on board. Goals change games and this was definitely the case in this instance.
Next up for rangers is a game against neighbours Windsor who beat the red and blacks on the opening day of the season 4-1. Like rangers, Windsor have been struggling with player availability of late, but it is expected that their big guns will be available for this weeks derby at the sports park. Rangers simply must raise their game if they hope to compete for the points this week.
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...