Both sides agreed it was not the prettiest game of football, but it was certainly hard fought, when SLH Contracting Plains Rangers hosted Tauranga City United on Saturday. Both teams had come off good wins the previous week. Tauranga City were fresh from beating league leaders Taupo 3 – 0 and the home team had notched up a good win against second placed Kawerau. Having plenty in common, both teams were also missing important players.
Rangers started well with some nice passing moves, but the game soon deteriorated into a stop start affair. There were plenty of tough challenges and appeals to referee Norm Howe, who did a fine job of keeping the players in line. After half an hour Rangers lost the services of reliable defender Ali Scott to injury, but the Rangers defence held firm to the increasing attacks of the visitors. Half time came and the score was 0 – 0.
Tauranga City got their game going well after the break, but it took an unfortunate own goal to open the scoring for them. Rangers picked themselves up and were soon back on level terms. A ball forward from substitute left back Barrie Hawkes was pulled across goal by Sione Lotu and Julian Reid scored a cracker from 20 metres. Reid, playing on debut, had only just come onto the field at half time. Rangers then lost centre back Peter Kirkbride to injury and had several players playing on with niggles. The midfield battle continued unabated, with Hamish Wilde and James Krause in particular putting the visitors under pressure. However with fifteen minutes left, Tauranga City pounced on a missed clearance, the shot at goal took a deflection, putting it out of keeper Matt Eveleens' reach and into the goal. The final score Plains Rangers 1, Tauranga City 2.
Tauranga were happy to avenge their loss to Rangers earlier in the season. Rangers named defender Levi Riri as player of the day and, with a lengthening injury list, will hope to pull together a team of players fit for their trip to play Rotorua United this Saturday.
On Sunday Plains Rangers women made the trip to play runaway league leaders Taupo. Rangers started well, with some good passing and movement. But after Taupo scored their first goal, their speed of play and teamwork took over. Rangers had a several good moves ending with shots on goal, but the day was mostly about trying to defend. Rangers never gave up and kept going. Keeper Radhika Arulambalam did well in a tough day for her. Sophie Estall was named player of the day for her non-stop work in the midfield. Rangers welcomed Sharon Cozens back to the field and young Shayna Penberth had some good touches. The score was Taupo 16, Rangers 0.
This Sunday Rangers women have another big challenge in the visit of second placed Papamoa. Kick off at Awakeri is at 12.30pm.