Rangers let lead slip to miss out on Cup quarter final
First Team fail to progress to the quarter-finals of the NEWFA Challenge Cup after surrendering a 2-0 half-time advantage to lose 3-2 in extra time.
The First Team forfeited a two-goal cushion as their NEWFA Challenge Cup adventure was brought to an end by visitors Overton.
Stephen Owen and Marcus McGuill had the Blues deservedly ahead at the interval, but a spirited Overton battled back into the tie to eventually restore parity.
And the visitors completed the comeback in a required period of extra time to triumph 3-2.
For the hosts it was more 'when' than 'if' at half-time, yet ultimately this cup tie deserves that worn-out cliche tag of a differing set of halves.
Rangers were cruising with a two-goal advantage as they headed for their fix of orange juice at the break untroubled by an Overton outfit who failed to conjure a first-half shot on target.
But after establishing the best possible start, the Blues were simply unable to find a killer third goal to put the tie beyond doubt.
The opening moments belonged all to Rangers as they strived for authority of proceedings from the outset, starting as bright as the sunny conditions.
For the first ten minutes at least, shot-stopper Dale Selvester could have made the most of the weather and watched from the comfort of a deckchair as Rangers penned Overton in their own half.
An inventive Rangers looked determined with the incentive of a quarter-final visit to holders Cefn Druid, and came close inside just five minutes, right-back Elliot Slade's effort blocked away for a corner from which skipper Ian Cropper volleyed narrowly over.
And the tenacious Tegid Lloyd fired over from distance just four minutes later as Rangers continued to create.
The hosts were rewarded for their positive start inside 13 minutes. Stephen Owen beat his marker in the air, getting on the end of Cropper’s lofted freekick to nod in a deserved opener.
Looking for a response, Overton finally chirped up a notch and threatened for the first time almost immediately after. Their lively number 9 capitalised on a stray touch from left-back Steve Evans to wriggle free and nearly poke in an equaliser.
Rangers resisted, though, and doubled their lead after 25 minutes. Inspirational midfielder Marcus McGuill was the scorer, curling in a delicious shot from the edge of the box following neat play from Matty Phillips.
Winger Phillips was involved in chances of his own, the best of which arriving when he did well to round the Overton keeper only to miss the gaping target in a pivotal moment.
Tegid Lloyd and Richard Evans, who cracked the woodwork, then went close from distance as the hosts continued the half in search of a crucial third goal. But their failure to find it proved the ultimate downfall.
Rangers' half-time brief would have discussed the need to persevere and find the knockout punch, but they returned to endure a continuous stream of bitter blows.
First, centre-back Owen, who marshalled the defence well and won most aerial battles, pulled up with a hamstring injury and was forced to make way for Lewis Cunliffe, who slotted into Richard Evans’ central midfield position as Evans retreated to right-back and Slade moved into the heart of the rearguard. The shuffle was unwelcome and the organisation of the defence seemed never to recover.
Overton started much sharper with purpose and had Rangers on the backfoot early on, their number 10 firing into Selvester’s hands and then heading narrowly wide as the Blues recognised their need to shape-up.
And the visitors made the bleary Blues pay, finding the goal they craved inside 55 minutes when number 7 fizzed in a freekick from 20-yards.
After a non-competitive first period, the restart reminded spectators there was actually a game to play and two teams there to play it. Shot-stopper Selvester was soon required after match-winner number 9 found himself one-on-one with defender Slade tracking. Selvester got a solid low right hand to keep his side ahead.
Forward Adam Russell was introduced in place of the tiring McGuill after around 70 minutes and nearly made the finest of contributions, but his outstretched leg couldn’t connect with power and the keeper made an easy save.
Substitute Cunliffe also went close with a fierce drive which forced a smart save out of the Overton stopper, and Phillips found space to move inside and try his luck, as well as squandering an overhead-kick effort minutes later, in an attempt to calm the comeback.
But on 75 minutes the inevitable happened, the visitors' number 8 collecting the ball and lifting it into the net to earn extra time. 2-2.
Rangers failed to test the opposing keeper enough in the additional period as Overton’s momentum carried through. The winner arrived from number 9, who latched onto a long-ball to poke home to make it 3-2 just three minutes in.
Tegid Lloyd’s drive was all that really troubled the Overton stopper, and as Rangers surged forward and overloaded men into the box in search of an equaliser, it was all too late and Overton held on for the win.
Overton will now travel to holders Cefn Druids in the last four of the competition on Tuesday, March 5.
RANGERS (4-4-1-1): Selvester; Slade, Owen (Cunliffe), Cropper, S Evans; Robson (Hardstaff), R Evans, Lloyd, Phillips; McGuill (Russell); McDaid. Subs not used: Peers