Unfortunately for SLH Contracting Plains Rangers, three fine goals and some good football were not enough in their BOP division one clash with Ngongotaha at Awakeri on Saturday.
Plains Rangers were immediately on the back foot in their game when Ngongotaha scored in their first attack, with Rangers unable to clear the ball from the goal area. However, the home team settled down and got some good passing going. A great team move, starting with the ball being passed back to the keeper then up through the ranks, ended with a Jordan Ogilvy cross being headed in by Sione Lotu to even up the score. Rangers had plenty of pressure on the visitors. A Jason Pullar corner was headed in by Ogilvy with a deft touch to put the home team in front. Injuries began to appear however, but it seemed no bother when substitute Ben McPherson scored with his first touch after coming on with a great shot from twenty metres. Late in the half however, Ngongotaha broke Rangers' grip on the game with a good break out down their left, ending with a goal. At half time the score was 3 – 2 to the hosts.
Immediately after the break however, the game changed. A hopeful cross from Ngongotaha floated over the keeper's head into the far top corner of the goal to even the game up. The visitors capitalised on hesitant defending soon after, to take the lead. Injuries continued to hamper the Rangers cause with several players limping off and midway through the half, Ngongotaha scored again to ensure the win, 5 – 3.
Rangers were very disappointed with the final result, but the game had been played in excellent spirit by both teams and it was well refereed by Alan Cobby. Ben McPherson was named player of the day for his super impact. It was also good to see Mike Johnstone back on the park for Rangers and the hard work of striker Sione Lotu, who never gave an inch.
This weekend Rangers will try to round up a fit squad to take down to play Taupo.
On Sunday Plains Rangers women played well against the top team in the Bay Bowl Papamoa, losing 12 – 1. Sarah Boyce's excellent defence earned her the player of the day award. Kiahli Ibbetson had a number of good strikes at goal, and was successful with one of them.
This Sunday, Rangers women are at home to Kawerau, in what is always a hard fought encounter. Kick off at Awakeri is at 12.30pm.