Longhoughton Rangers U14...2 Whickham Fellside U14...1
Pin Point Recruitment U14 League Two
RANGERS entertained third-placed Whickham Fellside on a beautiful autumn morning on Sunday.
Rangers welcomed Joe Beeby into the team for his debut and he quickly fitted in, looking very comfortable in the right-wing position.
With Whickham in a quite lofty position in the league, there was little to choose between the two sides for the first 20 minutes and no clear chances to speak of.
Whickham then came close with a smart switch of play followed by a volley that went well over the bar. That phase of play then led to a succession of Whickham corners that the Rangers defence did well to clear, the nearest one being headed onto the post by Jack Gibson.
From the resulting corner from the right, James Hume headed the ball clear, Jordan Moore whacked it downfield and Chris Gardner, who had a lot to do, powered past the final defender and slotted the ball past the keeper to give Rangers the lead (1-0).
Pressure on the left from Luke Evans and Josh Briggs won a free-kick on the edge of the box and Moore flashed the ball just over the bar before Whickham went close with a driven free-kick that was comfortably dealt with by Sam Eggleston in the Rangers goal.
Five minutes from the restart, Briggs and Beeby worked the ball through the middle and Gardner looked to have scored but the outstretched keeper managed to get his fingertips to the ball and the defence were able to clear.
Ryan Pattinson had a couple of reasonable chances after receiving good support from Gardner and Cye Simpson on the left but unfortunately he hit the resulting shots just wide.
At the back, the defence of Sheldon Dryden, James Hume, Brad Asprey and Jack Gibson were working hard and looking like a more organised unit to keep the Whickham forwards at bay.
Josh Briggs almost pulled off a Maradona-type goal, starting from his own half and beating at least five players, showing fantastic pace and skill on the on the way, before he got closed down by two defenders in the box as he was about to pull the trigger.
Whickham equalised with a header at the back post from a corner, which was where they had looked most threatening, before more good work from Briggs and Moore in the middle gave the ball to Pattinson who looped it over the defender. Gardner pounced on it to smash the ball home and restore the lead (2-1).
In the final five minutes, Sam Eggleston made a great diving save to his left before palming a corner away to the edge of the six-yard box.
The defence could not scrap the ball clear and as it looked Whickham would equalise, up popped Eggleston to boot the ball off the line.
Overall, this was a great result and another good team performance which will hopefully improve as the team becomes fitter and more used to working with each other.
Notable performances came from Beeby, making his debut, and Dryden, putting in a tough-tackling shift at left-back. The central-midfield pairing of Briggs and Moore combined skill and pace and Asprey had a solid game in the middle of the defence.
Man-of-the-match went to Eggleston for a confident and assured performance in goal capped by a points-winning clearance in the final minutes.
Rangers: A Francis, B Asprey, J Briggs, S Dryden J Hume, D Brooks, J Moore, R Pattinson, C Gardner, S Eggleston, J Gibson, C Simpson, L Evans, J Beeby