NFA U13 LEAGUE TWO
Berwick Rangers...2 Longhoughton Rangers...7
RANGERS were away to Berwick Rangers on Sunday on a dark and dank February afternoon on a pitch that was decidedly muddy in both goalmouths, but despite the difficult conditions a good game of football ensued.
Rangers suffered their perennial problem of being slow out of the block. Berwick dominated the first 10 minutes and but for some inaccurate finishing could have been well on the way to victory.
Rangers have found some form recently and have two clinical strikers. Against the run of play a long punt by Kieran Taylor was flicked on from midfield. Chris Gardner was onto the ball in a flash and lashed a shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the box.
Almost immediately Berwick struck back down the right and a cross was squeezed in at the far post.
At this point the game was hung in the balance until Gardner bagged an almost carbon copy goal following a great pass over the top from Will Hall. This seemed to take some of the fight from Berwick and with a quick reorganisation to move Josh Briggs into midfield and Brad Asprey to right-back Rangers started to dominate.
On 30 minutes some good interplay from Sam Eggleston and Josh Briggs from a throw in saw a cross sent into the Berwick box. It was scrapped clear but Will Hall seized on the clearance and fired a stinging shot along the ground to put Rangers 1-3 in the lead.
Almost on the stroke of half-time Ryan Harrison grabbed two goals in quick succession.
Firstly he found himself in space on the right wing. Everyone around him stopped as they thought he was offside, the referee didn’t blow and Harrison didn’t hesitate to get in close and stab the ball past the keeper.
He grabbed a second as Rangers won the ball back from the kick-off.
Andy Murray played a penetrating pass that Harrison ran onto to fire home and send Rangers in 1-5 at the break.
This pattern continued in the early minutes of the second half.
Some great passing and movement through the midfield worked the ball into the box and, with Berwick struggling to clear, Ryan Pattinson pounced to score from close range.
Chris Gardner grabbed his hat-trick minutes later when the ball dropped at his feet in a similar scramble in the box and he deftly finished to put the score at 1-7.
Rangers continued to dominate for the reminder of the game but the excellent Berwick keeper kept them at bay.
Berwick grabbed a second goal following a move down the right as Rangers began to lose some shape in the latter stages of the game.
Almost on the final whistle a great chance fell to Jordan Turnbull from 10 yards out but he was unable to get his feet clear of the mud to get enough power on the shot and the keeper gathered.
Overall it was another good team performance from the Longhoughton outfit who are showing encouraging signs of playing compact and incisive football. The defence was very solid again and despite some early scares mopped up almost everything that came their way.
The midfield got a grip on the game following a slow start and the centre forwards showed good finishing when the opportunity arose.
Man of the match went to hat-trick hero Chris Gardner for a typical battling performance capped with three good goals.
Team: 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: Chris Gardner.