Glorious conditions at Awakeri set the scene for the local derby between SLH Contracting Plains Rangers and Whakatane Town in BOP division one on Saturday. A good crowd turned up to enjoy the game, with plenty of support for both sides.
Rangers were missing a couple of players, but organised themselves well in the first half. Whakatane got into gear straight away and put pressure on their hosts, but Rangers weathered the storm. Jason Pullar kept the midfield solid and Rangers started stringing passes together too. A good combination between Ben Howe and Jordan Ogilvy was Rangers most likely threat. Ogilvy came within a whisker of turning a ball from Pullar into the goal. However, Whakatane had more of the possession and would have been confident going into the break. At 0 – 0 though, it was anyone's game.
However, soon after the interval, Whakatane opened up the Rangers defence to score. They increased their lead ten minutes later with a slick move that saw Ben Wilde race into the box and score. Rangers kept battling away, with captain, and eventually player of the day, Ali Scott working extremely hard in the midfield. In the end though, Whakatane took the game 4 – 0 and with it they also took home the Sponsors' Trophy, which is played for when these two sides meet.
Rangers would be very disappointed to lose hold of the trophy, but Whakatane's slick football deserved the win. Alongside Ali Scott, Rangers' best were Jason Pullar, Carl Imlig, Ben Howe and Levi Riri.
This Saturday Rangers men are away to Katikati.
On Sunday, Plains Rangers women travelled to play league leaders Tauranga City in the last round before the league is split. Rangers had nothing to lose and played with that attitude throughout, holding their ground and making Tauranga work hard. It took the home team quite a while to score their first goal. Rangers defence played with a lot of heart, putting their bodies on the line. Jo Ingle and Radhika Arulambalam stopped plenty of shots in their turns in goal, with the latter even saving a penalty. Saskia Scaddan worked hard out on the wing and up front Kiahli Ibbetson had some strong shots on goal. However, in the end the league leaders won 13 – 0.
Rangers women will have to wait to see who their next opponent is when the new draw comes out this week.