Rangers Dent Title Hopes Of Broadfields.
Smash and Grab as Rangers win on the road and Griggs gets marching orders!
Rangers completed the double over promotion challengers Broadfields United in a sometimes feisty game at Harefield. In manager Mark Eaton's own words 'It was a gritty performance' from his team as they stretched their unbeaten run to eight games. Rangers welcomed the return of Martin Griggs and Ben Cullen to their starting line-up with both players scoring. More mystifying was the absence of goalkeeper Jack Brooker who was reportedly injured, It didn't matter though as former Thame United keeper Steve Clark turned in a superb performance in the Rangers goal.
The game was six minutes old before the first chance as Broadfields flashed a shot across the face of the Rangers goal. Shortly after Rangers took the lead when following a good move, Griggs' pass put in Cullen, who finished well with an angled shot. Broadfields hit back and Clark saved well at the feet of a striker. A minute later he superbly tipped over a rasping shot as Broadfiields piled on the pressure. Rangers came back and Griggs' shot was pushed around the post after some good play from Marcus Wyllie and Laurence Clark. Rangers produced another good move that ended with the impressive Alfie Touceda being brought down in the box. United looked a little fortunate when the referee waved away Rangers' appeals. With Rangers enjoying a good spell Clark's shot was parried out with Cullen just unable to reach the rebound before, a minute to the break skipper Joel Read had the ball in the net following a corner, only for the referee to rule it out for a push. Clark produced an excellent reaction save from a point blank header to keep Rangers' slender lead intact but moments later Laurence Clark's clumsy challenge saw the referee rightly point to the spot. As the Rangers supporters feared the worst the Broadfields penalty taker smashed his kick against the bar, Rangers cleared the rebound and the referee blew for half time to a collective sigh of relief.
The second half had a lot less goalmouth action as Rangers consolidated. Broadfields had plenty of possession but the Rangers defensive unit worked hard to stifle their opponents in the final third, with Clark in the Rangers goal having little to do. United did give Risborough two early warnings as twice the ball was fizzed across the face of the goal with no one able to get a touch. Eventually Broadfields' pressure paid of however when in the 73rd minute following some neat passing, Broadfields skipper scored in off the post from just inside the Rangers area. Spurred on by this and sensing victory, the home side continued to put Rangers under pressure but again Rangers back four and midfield worked hard to contain them to good effect. As the game entered its final minutes Rangers themselves sensed that there may be more than a point to be had as Broadfields ran out of ideas. Following a couple of sporadic attacks from the visitors, Fraser Mclachlans goal bound shot was handled by a Broadfields defender and Rangers were awarded a penalty four minutes into stoppage time. As the referee yellow carded the offender and sent another Broadfield player from the field for his protestations, Griggs waited patiently to take the kick. Finally he smashed home the winning goal to send the Rangers players and supporters into celebration mode. Following the celebrations Griggs too was sent off for allegedly using foul language. There was still time for Broadfield to desperately launch a couple of attacks but with Rangers happy to clear their lines unceremoniously, there was only going to be one outcome.
This excellent win against a very good team should put Rangers in good spirit for their Division One Cup semi-final tie at home to Buckingham Athletic this coming Tuesday. Kick Off 7.45pm.
Rangers Man of the Match: Steve Clark. Three top saves in the first half from Clarky kept Rangers in the game. His positioning and handling throughout were first class.