Raptors feel the sharp Rangers claws

NABC U13 LEAGUE, DIVISION TWO

Longhoughton Rangers...6

Kingston Park Raptors...1

RANGERS had a welcome home match against Kingston Park Raptors on Sunday.

It was played on the surprisingly dry bigger pitch at Longhoughton in typical February weather, with a strong breeze blowing down the pitch. Rangers opted to kick into the wind in the first half.

The early exchanges were evenly balanced but, on three minutes, a Sam Eastham throw on the right was hit across the box by Josh Briggs. This found Andy Murray on the left and he lobbed it back across the six-yard box. Ryan Harrison was on hand to smash the ball into the roof of the net (1-0).

Sam Eggleston went close on seven minutes with a drilled free-kick that was deflected but unfortunately went straight to the keeper. Briggs, who was having a great game on the right, beat three players to forge a shooting chance but scuffed the shot.

It wasn’t all one-way as Raptors used the wind to good effect to try to get in behind the defence but continued great defending from the impressive back four of Brad Asprey, Eastham, James Humes and Joe Lewis, aided by Kieran Taylor in goal, kept them at bay.

As the half neared an end Rangers who had spurned a number of good chances started to get closer.

Will Hall played Harrison in and his shot just flashed wide of the far upright. On the stroke of half-time there were two goals in quick succession.

Firstly, a move from the back left involving Lewis and Eggleston worked the ball to Chris Gardner. He passed to Andy Murray in the middle of the box. His first shot was blocked but he smashed the second attempt into the back of the net. Almost from the restart, Rangers forced a corner and, in the ensuing scramble, Eastham shot through a crowd of players to send Rangers in 3-0 up at half-time.

Raptors were out of the blocks quickly in the second half and their best player almost jinked his way into the goal straight from the kick-off, but he was eventually crowded out by the central-defenders.

Six minutes into the half, a ball through the middle was held up well by Ryan Pattinson. He rolled it to Briggs on the right and his high cross bounced off a Raptor defender and into the net (4-0).

Shortly after, another combination between Briggs and Pattinson ended as Briggs was brought down in the box. Hall stepped up to drive the ball home from the penalty spot.

Rangers scored again with another intelligent pass from Pattinson, feeding Briggs. His cross was scrambled home by the predatory Harrison.

More drama was to follow as Raptors were awarded a penalty when one of their players was tripped off the ball. Kieran Taylor’s Grobbelar impression did enough to put him off and the resulting kick was gathered comfortably by Taylor for his second penalty save in three weeks.

On 26 minutes, Raptors gained a consolation as Rangers started to lose a bit of shape. Jordan Turbull went close near the end of the game with a strong run down the left but his shot found the side-netting.

It was another strong performance from the Longhoughton outfit with all players doing their bit. Long may it continue.

Longhoughton: 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: Sam Eastham.