The Awakeri Sportsfield was the scene for a humdinger
of a battle in BOP division one on Saturday. Gary Fowell Builders Plains
Rangers were at home to Te Puke, with third place in the league at stake.
Rangers were one point ahead of their visitors going into the clash, but
had lost 2 - 3 in the first meeting between them.
The Te Puke side had five Brazilians in their line up and they loved to
attack at pace. However, Rangers have been in great form lately and they
were not going to sit back either. This made for end-to-end entertainment
for the spectators. After ten minutes the home team got in front. Ben
Fretwell won the ball in defence and, coming forward, beat several players
before putting in a perfect pass for in-form striker Jaiden Ibbetson.
Ibbetson touched the ball around the Te Puke keeper before rolling it
home. Ten minutes later it was all square. A Te Puke free kick was headed
back across goal and a striker tapped it in. The game was evenly shared
and hard fought throughout the half. Rangers' defender James Hart made
a run forward, only to be fouled 35 metres from goal. From the resulting
freekick, he hit a thunderbolt towards the visitors' goal. A defender's
head got a nick on the ball as it sailed into the top corner of the goal.
At half time Rangers were in front 2 - 1.
After the break, the Te Puke team poured on the pressure. Fifteen minutes
in, they again leveled the scores. Their keeper launched a long clearance,
the bounce took it through the home team defence and a Te Puke striker
controlled the ball superbly and lobbed it into the Rangers' net. Te Puke
worked hard to gain the victory, but Rangers responded with tenacious
defence, led by the outstanding Fretwell. With two minutes to go, Rangers
hard work paid off. Centre midfielder Andy Brabant secured the ball outside
the crowded Te Puke penalty area and fired in a high shot, over the players
and keeper to send the Rangers supporters into ecstacies on the sideline.
The final score Plains Rangers 3, Te Puke 2.
Despite its competitiveness, the game was played in good spirit by both
teams and was well refereed by Paul Shakes. Brabant was player of the
This Saturday Rangers are in the semi final of the Bay Sportsmed Bowl.
They meet Old Blues at 12 noon at Mt Maunganui. Old Blues warmed up for
the game with a crazy 10 - 0 away win at Taupo.