Rangers made to work hard following goal less first half
A brace from Shaq Whittingham and a late goal from Lewis Archer rewarded Rangers with their 16th league win of the season and ensured their position at the top of the table.
Smethwick 0 Black Country Rangers 3
Wayne Spicer’s half time team talk worked wonders following a goal –less first half at High Ercall Avenue. A brace from Shaq Whittingham and a late goal from Lewis Archer rewarded Rangers with their 16th league win of the season and ensured their position at the top of the table.
Wayne Spicer, made just two changes to the opening eleven following last Saturday’s 4-0 win at Dudley Town, with Russ Garner and Lewis Taylor Boyce replacing Dan Forrest and Hayden Hughes who was side-lined to the bench.
Don’t be misled by the score line, Rangers were worked hard for their victory this afternoon by a Smethwick side whose performance and work rate at times matched that of the league leaders.
Those in attendance witnessed plenty of movement in the first half, as both sides fought to break the deadlock, with the hosts defending well which left Whittington, Clarke and Boyce hard pushed at times to break free and create space.
Rangers first real effect on goal came on 15 minutes, when a long throw in from Matthew Vaughan was cleared off the line but only as far as Jason Chiltern who had plenty of time to compose himself but his effect was just wide of the target.
But for a good 15 minute spell, the hosts matched their visitors and Rangers at times looked uneasy with that.
On 27 minutes, Rangers witnessed a minor scare when they conceded their second corner of the game, which was placed across the goalmouth by former Tipton Town defender Mark Ganderton. Colin Smith rose to back head the ball and it fell to Joe Clarke who with time on his hands looked as if that BCR were about to be punished, only to fire the ball wide of the target.
Smethwick’s Colin Smith and Joe Clarke continued to hound the Rangers defence with Alex Hammond, Ben Birch and Jamel Fuller working overtime.
Then on 39 minutes Joe Clarke’s high through ball found Colin Smith who outpaced his markers and with Todd Henderson to beat, misplaced his shoot and fired wide of the goal despites cries of offside from the Rangers defence.
The final closing minutes of the first half saw Smethwick on the back foot as Rangers pressed forward and following a goal mouth scramble, a cleared ball was driven into the path of Matthew Vaughan who hammered the ball against the cross bar.
A minute later, Kieron Clarke who until today had scored in the last four consecutive games found himself with a golden opportunity to break the deadlock but drove the ball directly into the welcome arms of Smethwick keeper Reiss Jeavons.
HT Smethwick 0 Black Country Rangers 0
Five minutes into the second half, Colin Smith executed a 15 yard strike which was inches wide of the target.
Rangers were more vocal this half, no doubt following a good half time talk from Wayne Spicer.
Both sides were getting more and more physical but it was hardly a dirty game despite the branding of six cautions, three for each side.
Rangers break came on 55 minutes, with a steady build up that caught Smethwick on the back foot with the final touch falling to Shaq Whittingham who executed a low drive and even though Jeavons got his hands to it, the ball sailed into the corner of the net.
A goal down, Smethwick’s game plan had to change and the game opened up much to Rangers liking and within 10 minutes Rangers had doubled their advantage. A swift three man move ended once again, with Whittingham firing home his 21st league goal of the season and he made it look so easy.
Smethwick immediately responded and a Colin Smith rocket was denied by the crossbar.
In the final five minutes of the game, Matthew Vaughan took on and beat three defenders and was oh so unlucky to witness his effect shade the far post.
Jonathan Ashfall, who replaced Russ Garner on 80 minutes geared himself up to take a last minute free kick on the edge of the box, but unfortunately he drove the ball directly at Jeavons.
Deep into stoppage time, Rangers pressed deep and a high ball from the left found substitute Lewis Archer who rose high to head home only his fifth goal of the season and condemn the hosts to a 3-0 defeat.
Rangers remain top, but with no game next Saturday – they could be toppled from top spot by the victors of the Tividale v Malvern fixture. Let’s hope it’s a draw!