Longhoughton Rgs Res...2
TOP-FLIGHT football is brimming with stories – some bad, some good – but none captures the imagination quite like Longhoughton Rangers’ tale of triumph over adversity, writes Thomas Flanighan.
To be fair, the looks on the Rangers players’ faces at full-time confirmed one of football’s greatest clichés: better to be a lucky player than a good one.
High-profile January transfer window signing Chris Stevenson made his debut upfront, hoping to impress home fans after taking a significant chunk out of chairman Paul Kiddell’s transfer budget – and the experienced forward showed his excellence on numerous occasions.
At times, sublime play was produced, notably from Tom Fleet, playing in central-midfield and ultimately running the show with brilliant short-passing interplay.
Peter Murray caused problem after problem for the opposition full-back and Peter Blacklock had the other in his back pocket. But it was Hedgeley who somehow managed to force the opening goal after an extremely controversial penalty was awarded.
By hook or by crook, Hedgeley grabbed a second not long after, leaving an air of astonishment on the pitch.
However, character was shown by all the lads and the deficit had been reduced to one within minutes when Gareth Leng-Jackson stormed forward to prod the ball into the back of the net – now a lynchpin in the heart of the back four: an organiser, a talker, a role model and a leader.
Liam Robinson didn’t really have to make a save all afternoon, a product of how solid the Rangers back four really were.
In fact, Robinson was only called upon on one occasion – the Rangers stopper making a vital save to keep his side in the game. Rangers pushed and pushed for the equaliser with Stevenson and Wood having chances to add goals.
Robbie Whittle made an impact, returning from injury, by adding a little force and urgency into each wave of attack.
Finally, Peter Murray claimed the equalizer from short range in the final ten minutes, which was nothing less than Rangers deserved.
All in all, a brilliant game for the neutrals. A catwalk, a canter, call it what you like, Longhoughton Rangers’ fantastic team performance proved the difference between the two teams.
Longhoughton Rangers Res: L Robinson, M Kiddell, LJ, A Robinson, S Thorpe, P Murray, T Flanighan, T Fleet, P Blacklock, C Stevenson, R Wood, A Kirkup, R Whittle.