NABC U13 LEAGUE TWO
RANGERS signed off a successful season on Sunday with a home tie against league champions Cramlington Whites.
This game came on the back of two poor displays against Cramlington away and Whickham away when the fight appeared to disappear from the team as it became apparent that promotion was no longer a possibility as other results went against them.
From the outset, it was clear, however, that Longhoughton were up for this game and looking to make amends for two previous heavy defeats from Cramlington. Rangers were working hard all across the park and a trial four-three-three formation was working well.
At the back, Sam Eastham and James Hume looked assured and organised in the middle as they worked to keep the very pacy and skilful Cramlington centre-forward quiet. On either side, they were helped out by Brad Asprey and Jordan Briggs.
On 10 minutes, having fashioned a couple of chances, one of which was cleared off the line by Sam Eastham, Cramlington went one up when the defence found themselves slightly out of position and Brad Asprey was outnumbered on the right. The ball was worked through the middle of the box and driven home past Kieran Taylor in the Rangers net (0-1).
Rangers were by no means second best and on 15 minutes a Sam Eggleston free-kick was floated into the box. It was kept alive by Ryan Harrison and he pushed the ball forward for Ryan Pattinson to score from close range (1-1).
Shortly after, Rangers were 2-1 up following good work on the right from Ryan Harrison and Josh Briggs.
Chris Gardner, who was playing in a more free-ranging role upfront sent a low cross in and Ryan Pattinson was on hand again to stab home and take his goal tally for the season to 12.
Just before half-time, Cramlington levelled the score with a flowing move on the right that ended with a low shot into the corner of the net.
The second half was an excellent and finely-balanced 35 minutes of football. Cramlington had a number of chances, the pick of which came from a free-kick but Taylor managed to get down to it and scooped it up and over the bar. They also forced a number of corners but a combination of diehard defending and scrapping the ball clear kept them out.
Up-front, Andy Murray and Jordan Turnbull were working hard to create chances. In the last 10 minutes, Rangers started to carve out opportunities and put together a number of excellent moves, particularly on the right, with Josh Briggs and Ryan Harrison playing some neat interchanges to get round the back of the Cramlington defence.
Harrison sent in a number of deep, threatening crosses. On one occasion, Jordan Turnbull collected the ball just inside the box. He did everything right, getting the ball out from his feet and having a look up before trying to slide it across the keeper but a superb fingertip save kept it out.
Andy Murray saw a 25 yard free-kick smash the angle of the crossbar and post and rebound clear.
At the other end, Cramlington swapped the position of their star player but resolute defending from Jack Gibson and Joe Lewis kept them out.
With the clock ticking down, it looked like a draw until good work by Chris Gardner and Will Hall won Rangers a corner on the left in the final minute.
Sam Eggleston despatched a high, curling ball into the middle of the box.
Cramlington let it bounce and Josh Briggs was on hand to toe poke the bouncing ball through a melee of players and into the roof of the net to win the game 3-2.
Overall, another great game of football at Westfield Park and a fitting finale to a season in which the Longhoughton outfit, who are capable on occasions of playing a standard of football well beyond their 13 years, finished a very creditable third in NABC League Two and made cup quarter and semi-finals.
Man-of-the-match went to two-goal hero Ryan ‘Monty’ Pattinson. Other mentions should go to Josh Briggs and Ryan Harrison for typical combative performances.
Rangers: K Taylor, R Pattinson, Jordan Briggs, Josh Briggs, J Lewis, S Eastham, S Eggleston, J Turnbull, C Gardner, R Harrison, B Asprey, W Hall, L Evans, J Gibson, A Murray, J Hume. Man-of-the-match: Ryan Pattinson.