Both Plains Rangers teams had very entertaining games over the weekend, with differing results.
On Saturday SLH Contracting Plains Rangers men travelled to play first division side Papamoa in a Bay Sportsmed Bowl quarter final. Conditions played quite a part in the game, with a strong wind blowing one way down a curiously grassless pitch. Rangers had the wind at their backs in the first half and got off to a good start. After ten minutes captain James Hart fed the ball through to striker Sione Lotu, who beat his man then fired a left foot shot past the keeper. Just three minutes later the home team equalised, with a shot going through a sea of legs before ending up in the Rangers net. Both teams played enterprising football, creating plenty of attacking opportunities. Midway through the half Rangers right winger Petir Gray put in a teasing cross and Jordan Ogilvy's brave diving header was somehow kept out by the keeper, who collided with Ogilvy and also got a hand to the ball. Papamoa got ahead shortly afterwards when their solid striker did very well to beat three defenders before scoring. Papamoa were ahead 2 – 1 at the break.
Playing into the wind, Rangers started the second half well. After ten minutes, another Ogilvy header was cleared off the line. However, the home team raced down the other end and despite loud protests for offside, they scored to extend the lead. One minute later Rangers skipper Hart bounced his corner off the crossbar. Three minutes later Aaron Muggeridge looked to have made a very fair solid tackle on a Papamoa attacker, but it was ruled to be a penalty, from which Papamoa duly scored. Not long after that, the home team scored a good goal to have a big, if rather undeserved, lead. However, Rangers were not about to give up, they kept on attacking and had a good share of possession for the last twenty minutes. Hamish Wilde sent in a free kick from wide out that sailed into the Papamoa goal untouched. Late in the game Jordan Ogilvy capped off a fine game with a well taken goal after being put through the defence, to make the final score Papamoa 5, Plains Rangers 3.
Perhaps unlucky, Rangers were disappointed to be knocked out of the Bowl which they had won last season, however they would be pleased with the football played and the never-say-die attitude that was shown. Young defender Jamaal James had a terrific game at left back, making a number of interceptions and he was named player of the day. Hamish Wilde was another in top form, despite being well marked by the opposition. This Saturday Rangers are back in league action, away to Otumoetai.
On Sunday Plains Rangers women were at home to Ngongotaha in BOP division one. The wind was also blowing fairly briskly down the Awakeri pitch and the visitors had its benefit in the first half. However, Rangers had marginally the better of possession and created a number of good chances, but these were not converted. After half an hour Ngongotaha got a run away and scored, against the run of play. Rangers created a couple more chances without result before the break.
The visitors made a quick start to the second half and doubled their lead, which seemed to wake Rangers women up. Young striker Cassidy Spillman got a goal back for the home team and it became a great battle, with both sides pushing for the result. Rangers centre midfielder Macca Mathis hit the crossbar from a free kick. Midway through the half Spillman fed the ball to Janie Paling who slipped it through for Kiahli Ibbetson who buried it in the net, to even up the scores. Ngongotaha had a couple more break-aways that were only dealt with by desperate defending from Sarah Boyce and Mishka Barry. Late in the piece the home team found a winner. Paling laid the ball back to Mathis who fired in a great shot from 35 metres to earn a 3 – 2 win for Plains Rangers.
Rangers had produced a very good final half hour performance, with Sarah Boyce named player of the day. Mathis and Caitlin Stuckey were also impressive. This Sunday Rangers women are away to Rotorua, in the last game of the round before the league is split.