NABC U13 Division Two, Longhoughton Rangers 4 Whickham Fellside 3
RANGERS were at home to Whickham who were an unknown quantity, previously from the Durham league on Sunday.
They turned out to be a very capable outfit that played attractive open football and a super game encapsulating all that is good in junior football ensued in the early spring sunshine.
For the first few minutes both sides looked to find an advantage but much of the game was being played in the midfield.
On six minutes Sam Eastham thumped the ball out of defence to the right. It was picked up by Josh Briggs who fed Will Hall, who deftly beat two players and laid a good pass into Andy Murray on the edge of the box. Murray struck a great curling first time shot into the left corner of the net.
This sparked Whickham, who had been threatening on the break, into life.
A careless foul-throw turned a chance to clear into defence and a ball into the middle of the box was despatched past the stranded Taylor.
Rangers had a couple of half chances to score following good work from Gardner but the usually clinical Harrison pulled them wide.
With the game evenly balanced Whickham got the upper-hand with a great flowing move that split the middle of the defence and a stinging shot was hit into the roof of the net 1-2.
On 21 minutes Rangers drew level as they got a foothold in the centre of midfield and Will Hall and Sam Eggleston looked to play some creative and searching passes.
Ryan Harrison crossed the ball from the right. The goalkeeper came to collect but Chris Gardner was quicker to sneak the ball away, jink past and fire home, 2-2.
Whickham were out of the blocks quickly in the second half as Rangers failed to deal with a corner. Taylor came out to claim the loose ball but was quickly in no man’s land and as the defence missed a number of tackles it fell to a forward three-yards out to restore their lead at 2-3.
Rangers continued to carry a threat particularly on the right with Jack Gibson and Luke Evans combining well on the right and Will Hall and Jordan Turnbull working effectively on the left.
On 50 minutes Rangers were on level terms with a long clearance from Sam Eastham up the middle. Ryan Harrison used good strength to hold the ball up and then had the vision to play in Ryan Pattinson with a measured pass that Pattinson then steered around the keeper into the right corner of the net. This was all the more remarkable by the fact that it was his left foot.
Ryan Harrison was unlucky not to fire Rangers into the lead when he beat the keeper and a defender. As he was stretching to get the shot goalwards he was unable to get enough power on it and as it wandered agonisingly towards goal a Whickham defender cleared off the line.
With Rangers now forcing the pressure and keeping the ball in the Whickham half Will Hall lobbed a high ball forward.
Ryan Pattinson who is forging himself a David Fairclough (for those readers of a certain age) like super-sub reputation used his size and strength to get the upper-hand on the central defender and hit a great looping shot from 16 yards over the keeper, 4-3.
In the last five minutes Whickham pushed for an equaliser from a couple of corners but resolute defending from Sam Eastham and James Hume in the centre, aided by Joe Lewis and Jack Gibson out wide, kept them at bay.
The final result of 4-3 to the Longhoughton outfit sends them for the moment to the top of NABC League Division Two.
Overall another great team effort in a match played with high energy and not inconsiderable skill with the whole squad contributing something good in the game.
Particular mention should go to Ryan Pattinson for two great goals including the match winner, James Hume who mopped up very effectively through the second half and the two forwards Chris Gardner and Ryan Harrison who worked tirelessly to close down from the front.
Man-of-the-match went to Sam Eggleston for a cultured and dare we say intelligent display in the centre of midfield.
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: Sam Eggleston.