NABC U13 LEAGUE, DIVISION TWO
RANGERS were at home again on Sunday in the league in a handily-reversed fixture to Ashington as their pitches were waterlogged and the immaculate Westfield Park was in great condition.
As ever, there was a breeze blowing down the pitch and Rangers opted to kick into the wind.
Due to Longhoughton’s recent upturn in form, this was a battle for third place in the league and it did not disappoint.
For the first 15 minutes, the game was in the balance with neither side able to assert itself. Ashington looked composed on the ball and knocked it about well, but Rangers fashioned the better chances although they were snatched and did not trouble the keeper.
The compact Rangers defence was reorganised at this point as James Hume succumbed to an eye-watering injury that meant Joe Lewis moved to centre-half and Jordan Briggs came in at left-back.
His introduction had an immediate impact as his tenacity started some probing moves on the left-wing.
On 28 minutes, a disputed decision that looked like a Rangers corner resulted in an Ashington goal-kick. The Rangers midfield seized on the ball and spread it wide to Andy Murray. He jinked his way into the box and laid the ball off for Chris Gardner to cross. Ryan Harrison was right on the mark to poke the ball home from on the line.
Two minutes later, Rangers scored again as Sam Eastham strolled the ball out of defence.
In a similar move to the previous goal, Murray and Gardner again combined to provide Ryan Harrison with another tap-in.
On the stroke of half-time, it was almost three as Jack Gibson punted a ball into the box. In the scramble that followed, Josh Briggs had an overhead kick cleared off the line and Ryan Harrison back-heeled the loose ball onto the post before it was cleared.
Rangers dominance continued straight from the second-half kick-off with a move on the left involving Jordan Turnbull. He played a ball across to Ryan Pattinson and his short pass found Josh Briggs who fired a low shot under the keeper
It wasn’t all one-way traffic as Ashington started to forge chances, however, on the odd occasion the forwards got free of the attention of the excellent Rangers defence they either shot wide or Kieran Taylor was on hand to mop up.
Jordan Turnbull provided a great little side show for the excellent support on the left of the pitch with a couple of demonstrations of his unbelievable tekkers as he twisted the Ashington defenders inside and out and Luke Evans had a solid midfield performance cut short when he was unfortunately pole-axed by a clearance square in the face.
On 30 minutes, Rangers broke quickly on the right after an Ashington corner was cleared by Joe Lewis.
Sam Eggleston picked up the loose ball and spread it to Ryan Harrison on the right-wing. He beat the defender and fired a shot to the far post.
The ball was destined for the back of the net and his hat-trick, however, much to his frustration, he was out-poached by Ryan Pattinson, who stole in to stab the ball in from inches out.
That completed the scoring and Rangers ran out 4-0 winners and a result that saw them leap-frog Ashington to move into third in the league and, following a great string of results that could not have been foreseen before Christmas, just outside the promotion places.
Overall, it was a particularly satisfying result with a clean sheet and good performances from all team members. The defence again deserves particular mention and man-of-the-match went to Jordan Briggs, who was outstanding at left-back as he was strong in defence and inventive and skilled in supporting the attack.
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: Jordan Briggs.