A rather wet and muddy Awakeri Sports field was the venue for SLH Contracting Plains Rangers when they hosted Otumoetai in BOP division one on Saturday. Rangers were missing quite a few players, so a rearranged backline was put together. The visitors started very strongly and put the home team under pressure from the outset. For the first twenty minutes they pinned Rangers back and had a number of good attacks. However the back line held firm and with keeper Christian Wetting in super form behind them, Otumoetai were mostly restricted to shots from outside the box. When Aaron Muggeridge limped off the field after 30 minutes, the backline was rearranged further with three Edgecumbe College players and veteran Barrie Hawkes holding the fort. All that defending paid off, when late in the half Rangers took a surprise lead. Another College player Petir Gray was sent through into the Otumoetai penalty area. He skipped past defenders and dinked the ball over the advancing keeper, who brought him down. Jason Pullar stepped up to convert the resulting penalty and Rangers led 1 – 0 at the break.
At half time player-coach Wetting exhorted his troops to retain the ball better and keep their focus. Rangers pushed forward better in the second spell, but still the visitors had the majority of possession. Ben Howe, making a comeback after four year's absence was making a difference, holding the ball up and linking with the midfield well. Jordan Ogilvy was put through with a massive clearance from keeper Wetting and the keeper managed to deflect his goal-bound shot away. However, with fifteen minutes to go Otumoetai scored from close range and evened the game up. They pressed for the winner. Drama came in the final moments of the game. Otumoetai played the ball through to their striker running into the box and the whistle blew. Rangers thought it was for the striker being offside, Otumoetai thought it was for their goal being scored, but referee David White had decided that more than four minutes of extra time had been added and the game was over! The final score was Plains Rangers 1, Otumoetai 1.
Otumoetai were not happy with this outcome, while Rangers were relieved. However, the draw was probably what both sides deserved, Rangers for their gritty defence and Otumoetai because they hadn't been able to convert their chances into goals. Rangers named young right fullback Ranui Renata player of the day, for his superb effort, in his first full game of senior football, in keeping his opposing winger quiet. Petir Gray also had a terrific game in midfield.
This Saturday Rangers are away to Rotorua United.