SLH Contracting Plains Rangers hosted Whakatane Town in the BOP division one clash on Saturday, that doubled as a Sponsor's Cup challenge.
Rangers had an early set back, losing Juan Bautista Propato to injury in the opening minutes. League leaders Whakatane started out playing composed football, whereas Rangers at times rushed their play. The visitors took the lead in just the 11th minute with a superb strike from twenty metres. Rangers did get their game going, making inroads down the right where Petir Gray, Hamish Wilde and Carl Imlig linked up well. The visitors had the bigger share of possession but Rangers defence held out well, although keeper Christian Wetting was called on to make a good save late in the half, pushing a shot over the bar. At half time the score was 1 – 0 to Whakatane.
The second half continued in similar vein, Whakatane happy to control possession and Rangers looking to make breaks. With ten minutes to go, Whakatane extended their lead in somewhat controversial fashion. Rangers centre back Matt Dalgity was attempting to sub off injured but the visitors took a quick throw in and exploited the gap in Rangers' defence to score. The final score was 2 – 0, giving Whakatane a valuable three points and meaning they retained the cup as well.
There were many comments on the sideline about the good football on display from both teams. Player of the day for Rangers was right fullback Carl Imlig, with others in top form being James Hart and Petir Gray. Sean Henderson was player of the day for Whakatane.
This Saturday Rangers are hoping to arrange a postponed game with Kawerau.
On Sunday Plains Rangers women were at home to Te Puke. Rangers got off to a great start. Centre midfielder Rachel Elliot put a well-weighted free kick behind the Te Puke defence and Jenny McIntyre slammed it into the net. However, the visitors bounced back to score twice in the next ten minutes and it looked like Rangers might be heading for a big defeat. To their credit though, the Rangers women were determined in defence and got their passing game going, so the game became fairly evenly balanced. At half time the score was still 2 – 1 to Te Puke.
After the break Rangers played some of their best football of the season. The visiting defence had to be on their toes to deal with the pace of Kiahli Ibbetson and Cassidy Spillman. At the other end keeper Joe Ingle impressed with her reading of the game, getting off her line well to thwart attacks. In the final minutes Te Puke sealed their win with a third goal, while Ibbetson shaved the post after being put through the defence. The final score: Plains Rangers 1, Te Puke 3.
Amber McKenzie was player of the day, with impressive performances also from Laura Powick, Rachel Elliot and Jenny McIntyre.