Rangers host first international match

Longhoughton Rangers...2 SuS Kaiserau...2

U14 International Friendly

IN its relatively short history, Longhoughton Rangers have enjoyed many firsts, including the first club in the district to achieve FA Charter Standard Community Club status and the FA’s National Development Club of the Year 2009.

But all of this success was arguably surpassed on Tuesday, April 19, when the club played host to its first foreign visitors in an U14s friendly.

German club SuS Kaiserau are a large club based near Dortmund. Formed in 1920, they today have 21 youth teams.

In the 2006 World Cup, the club’s facilities were used by Spain as its base and by the German national team in 2008.

They came to Longhoughton as a result of Rangers’ close ties with Newcastle United FC.

On a beautiful spring afternoon at Westfield Park, the match set off at a blistering pace.

The home side was not given much time to get the measure of the tourists, with an early chance being safely collected by Rangers keeper Phil Brown.

With barely two minutes gone, an excellent Kaiserau corner and rifled header beat Brown for the visitors’ opening goal.

Rangers responded well from the re-start with a long-range effort by Matthew Stephenson being comfortably collected by the visitors’ keeper.

With end-to-end play reminiscent of a game of pinball, a good move with slick passing through midfield resulted in Kaiserau’s attempt on goal being stifled by some committed defending by Matthew Hunter.

On 10 minutes, a long goal-kick by Brown found Ben Courty, who took on two of the opposition defenders in typically robust style before scoring the equaliser with a controlled lob over the outstretched arms of the advancing keeper.

Further Rangers chances fell to Cameron Barriskell on 12 minutes and an excellent through-ball by Dan Troy gave Courty the chance to score a second on 13 minutes but he was denied by an excellent save by the German keeper and, with the ball breaking loose, Tristan Oliver shot was just wide.

The tourists responded with well-organised passing and movement but were contained by continued quality defending by Hunter and Jack Lane.

With 18 minutes gone, a strong run by Barriskell, assisted by Oliver, gave him the chance to head Rangers into the lead but for another excellent diving save by the Kaiserau keeper.

With Michael Kirkup replacing Barriskell on 19 minutes, play continued end-to-end with a long-range visitors’ effort being comfortably collected by Brown and Courty shooting wide from a Troy pass, then again from a well-placed Dale Thompson ball.

With 20 minutes gone, the visitors looked to be clean through for a second goal but for a great tackle by Stephenson and they hit the Rangers post from the resulting corner.

Further Rangers substitutions came on 23 minutes, with Brad Aspery replacing Thompson and on 34 minutes when Liam Tiffin replaced Jordon Beattie.

The chances continued to fall to both sides with Kaiserau shooting over after an excellent passing move and a fierce 37th minute Troy free-kick, which the visitors’ keeper could only parry with Rangers unable to get onto the loose ball.

Half-time came with the score 1-1 after an excellent display by both sides.

The start of the second half saw several Rangers substitutions with Jonathan Smeaton replacing Brown in goal, Matthew Shell replacing Lane and Brandon Smith replacing Oliver. The early chances of the half fell to Rangers who nearly converted from a corner and on 52 minutes when Troy shot just wide.

Daniel Brooks replaced Courty on 54 minutes and Daniel Mallen came on for Hunter on 55 minutes.

Rangers should have taken the lead through Smith but his effort somehow trickled past the visitors’ post.

But it was the tourists who took the lead from a 58th minute corner when the diving Smeaton got a hand on the ball but couldn’t prevent the goal.

The scoreline should have been 3-1 to the visitors on 21 minutes when they hit the post and failed to net the re-bound. Ranger’s response was instant with a Troy free-kick being saved in mid-air by the diving Kaiserau keeper.

Rangers again shuffled their pack, with Cameron Barriskell replacing Stephenson on 25 minutes.

As pressure on the Rangers goal mounted, Smeaton read the danger well on 27 minutes to make a strong clearance and then on 28 minutes managed to parry a shot onto the post with the rebound eventually being cleared by the Rangers defence.

With Ben Courty replacing Mallen on 30 minutes and Jack Lane replacing Aspery on 33 minutes, an excellent dancing run by Shell was just cut out by the tourists.

The game was coming to a close when an excellent Rangers passing move, starting with a ball from Troy to Tiffin, found Adam Jobson, whose excellent ball resulted in Smith netting the equaliser.

Rangers’ final substitution saw Tristan Oliver replace Troy. The final few moments of the game were played out with each side going for the winner.

Full-time came with honours even as the game ended 2-2. Fortunately for the English team the game didn’t have to go to penalties!

Following the game, Rangers club chairman Paul Kiddell said: “It was an absolute honour to host SuS Kaiserau U14s and their highly-experienced coaching staff.

“The game was played in a wonderful spirit and both sets of players were a credit, not only to their respective clubs, but to their nations.

“Football plays a huge part in the positive development of young people and we are excited about extending our links with our good friends at Kaiserau. We look forward to playing the Germans on their home turf next season.”

Longhoughton Rangers U14 Internationals: Phillip Brown, Dale Thompson, Matthew Hunter, Matthew Stephenson, Jack Lane, Adam Jobson, Ben Courty, Daniel Troy, Jordon Beatie, Tristan Oliver, Cameron Barriskell, Jonathan Smeaton, Daniel Mallen, Matthew Shell, Daniel Brooks, Michael Kirkup, Liam Tiffin, Brad Aspery and Brandon Smith.