Injuries reduce power of Rangers’ Shield challenge

Longhoughton Rangers...1 Heaton Hawks...2

Pin Point League U14 Challenge Shield

RANGERS recommenced their campaign with a reconfigured and reconstituted side in a home cup game against Heaton Hawks on Sunday.

The game was evenly matched for the first 20 minutes as the new boys making their debuts – Andrew Francis in goal, Jordan Moore, Sheldon Dryden and Dan Brooks – acquitted themselves well having been thrown straight in at the deep end.

Rangers had most of the early chances with Ryan Pattinson and Josh Briggs going close. Hawks forced one corner and had a couple of shots at goal but all were confidently dealt with by Francis.

On 20 minutes, a move on the left-wing involving Moore and Briggs set Chris Gardner free of the defence. He hit the ball on the bounce across the keeper and into the corner of the net (1-0).

Unfortunately, he aggravated an injury and was unable to play any further part in the game.

On 30 minutes, keeper Francis went to ground to claim a ball in the box just ahead of the Hawks forward. In the resulting collision, the Rangers keeper sustained a broken hand and a blow to the head which will keep him out of action for six weeks.

This meant there was a quick reorganisation with Sam Eggleston dropping into goal as Rangers went down to 10 men with the second half to play.

For the first 10 minutes of the half, Rangers held their own and had chances from Ryan Pattinson and Jordan Moore but as the half wore on it started to become a siege as Hawks pressed for an equaliser.

Rangers held out with some valiant defending and strong tackling from the back line of Brad Asprey, James Hume and Briggs and Dryden. The midfield pairing of Brooks and Jack Gibson was working equally hard to try to scrap the ball away.

It looked as though Rangers may hold out when Eggleston made a superb one-handed diving save, but shortly after that, Hawks bundled the ball over the line (1-1).

As extra-time loomed, Hawks found a way through the stretched Rangers defence to score the winner.

Despite the result, this was a promising performance for the new squad playing their first competitive game together.

Particular mention should go to Brad Asprey, who was excellent at right-back, Ryan Pattinson, who did his best to plough a lone furrow upfront, and man-of-the-match Josh Briggs, who was absolutely superb in every respect, showing strength, skill, composure, touch and amazing energy levels throughout the game.

Longhoughton: A Francis, B Asprey, J Briggs, S Dryden J Hume, D Brooks, J Moore, R Pattinson, C Gardner, S Eggleston, J Gibson, L Evans.