Cup triumph despite injuries

Newbiggin CSC U11...2 Longhoughton Rangers U11...6

Pin Point Recruitment League, U11 NEYD Cup

AN injury-hit Longhoughton squad travelled to Newbiggin for this second round cup match.

Rangers, without their first-choice keeper and a striker, knew that they would have a tough battle on their hands. Newbiggin started as the stronger of the two sides and very quickly took the league sliding the ball past goalkeeper Jake Bell who collided with the post, trying to stop the shot.

This meant a very early reshuffle for Rangers with Louis Stripp taking the gloves and Harry Byrne playing an unfamiliar striker’s role.

Rangers battled hard and were soon rewarded with an equaliser which was very well taken by Harry Gibson.

Newbiggin were quickly back on the attack pressurising the Rangers defence and earning a free-kick from a handled back pass.

Rangers defended it well though, giving Stripp some excellent protection meaning defenders Rees Thompson and Ben Wright were able to clear their lines.

More pressure from the Newbiggin midfield again paid dividends as they scored their second.

Again Rangers fought back with some tenacious play from a central midfield pairing of Lewis Smart and Mathew Thompson forcing a corner. The ball was delivered superbly by Matisse Richards and poked home by Harry Byrne as he used his strength to win a goal-mouth scramble.

It was honours even at the half-time whistle and deservedly so.

Another change of keeper for Rangers at half-time proved to be a good decision.

Richards was sensational in goal, coming out confidently and getting fantastic distance on his clearances and always looking to put his team on the attack.

Stripp returned to his more familiar left-midfield position and linked up superbly well with left-back Jonathan Fortescue and the two of them produced some surging runs and accurate crosses.

Archie Wort who was having a tremendous game at right-back, tackled confidently and with tremendous vision played the ball through to Gibson who set himself and hit an absolute screamer into the top corner to give Rangers the lead.

This lifted Rangers. From then on they never looked back and settled comfortably to play some excellent football.

Some skilful play and good awareness saw the ball fall to Lewis Smart on the edge of the 18-yard box who despatched Rangers’ fourth into the bottom corner.

Rangers now really had the bit between their teeth and were using the pace of striker Will Stewart to good effect, but while he had the keeper beaten on several occasions, the post and the crossbar prevented him adding to his season’s goal tally.

Smart, Stripp and Stewart all forced some top-drawer saves from the Newbiggin keeper, who had an outstanding game, but Gibson was able to find a way through to score Rangers’ fifth and complete his hat-trick.

Bell had sufficiently recovered to give some fresh legs to the Longhoughton attack and replaced Byrne who played a terrific game in an unfamiliar striker’s role.

Stewart, Stripp and Fortescue combined well to work the ball down the left of the pitch providing a superb cross for Mathew Thompson to fire home Rangers’ sixth.

Newbiggin, to their credit, never gave up.

But Rangers keeper Richards claimed confidently and the back four - Wort, Rees Thompson, Wright and Fortescue competently dealt with the late pressure to allow Rangers to see out their deserved victory.

Goals: Gibson (three), Byrne, Smart, M Thompson. Man-of-the-match: Gibson for an outstanding captain’s performance.