Glorious conditions set the backdrop for a well contested game at Awakeri between SLH Contracting Plains Rangers and Taupo FC on Saturday.
Both teams started strongly. Taupo attacked immediately, and then Rangers counter attacked, with Hamish Wilde racing 50 metres down the wing, cutting in and hitting the post! The visitors played a more controlled game, but Rangers again came close after ten minutes when Wilde hit the cross bar with a free kick from twenty metres. Soon after, Rangers lost right back Carl Imlig to injury, which forced a reshuffle. Jamaal James dropped back and did the defensive job in excellent fashion. Rangers then had another big blow when Wilde also limped off the field. Taupo continued to play well, but the home line of defence, backed up by the outstanding Christian Wetting in goal held their shape well.
At half time Wetting refocused his troops on playing smart possession football. The second half brought an improved local showing. After five minutes Richie Nillesen had the ball in the back of the net, with the referee signalling a goal. However, he then changed his mind, deciding after considerable pressure from the Taupo team, that there had been a foul! Rangers were stunned, but continued to give a good account. As the game wore on, Taupo looked to have lost belief that they could get through the Rangers defence. The Rangers players tested them with some good passing and forays down the right involving Petir Gray and Jamaal James. In the end, the score remained a fair 0 – 0 draw, although it told a tale that one of the Taupo team said, 'Oh well a 1 - 0 loss isn't too bad!'. He was quickly correctly by a team mate!
Rangers player of the day was left back Ali Scott, who put in an excellent shift. Others to impress included Levi Riri and Jimmy Hart. This Saturday Rangers men are away at Papamoa.
On Sunday Plains Rangers women were also at home to Taupo, hoping to recover from their ordeal the previous week. Taupo however were also a difficult proposition, being top of the table.
Rangers put together a much improved performance and took the lead in the game. Kiahli Ibbetson got a break and took her goal well. Taupo put the pressure on though and had the lead 2 – 1 by half time. The visitors went on to win the game 5 – 1 with time called a few minutes early for an injury to young Rangers player Gemma Stuckey.
This Sunday, Rangers women have another home game, this time against sixth placed Rotorua United.