Plains Rangers were back in action on Saturday after a three week lay-off.
Rangers were at home to Tauranga City United Two in the first match of
the new BOP Division Two. The visitors had won the Western section of
the qualifying round, and posed a big challenge for Rangers.
The game was all on from their first whistle. The visitors had a golden
chance to open the scoring in the early moments when keeper Matt Aberhart,
making a welcome return from injury, had little option but to catch a
close range back pass. The resulting indirect free kick was 10 m out,
right in front of goal. Aberhart made a brilliant save to block the well
struck shot, and it was cleared to safety. Tauranga had another lucky
break a couple of minutes later, when David Manville scored from a misplaced
cross which flew into the top corner of the Rangers goal. To compound
the home teams
woes, another Tauranga attack was well finished from close range. Rangers
gradually came into the game and it was a fiercely fought battle. Good
pressure from player of the day Aaron Muggeridge put the visitors defence
into a panic and Bas Overdevest seized on the opportunity to sidefoot
the ball into goal. The half time score was 2 - 1 to Tauranga City.
Soon after the interval, a mistimed tackle in the Rangers penalty area
gave the visitors a penalty and it was comfortably converted. Both teams
were playing some good passing football and possession was evenly shared
for the second half. A hard low cross from Jason Shaw caught out the Tauranga
defence. Rangers striker Brendan Cusack was denied a goal from it
as a defender struck it into his own goal. The introduction of Ashley
Hawkes gave Rangers further forward impetus. However the
last goal was scored by the visitors after a sweeping counter attack.
Referee Mark Varvazovski, who had an excellent game in the middle, sent
a Tauranga player from the field for unsporting conduct, but Rangers didnt
have enough time left to capitalise on their superior numbers. The final
score Plains Rangers 2, Tauranga City United 4.
Rangers performed well, considering their break from competitive play.
After the initial wobbles, the defence combined well as a unit, Steve
Vierboom standing out with some solid tackles. The centre midfield pairings
of Overdevest and Jason Pullar and, later Overdevest and Daniel Logan
put together some excellent passing moves too.
This Saturday, the leagues take a break and the knock-out Tasman Cup has
its first round. Rangers will meet first division Kawerau at Stoneham