Plains Rangers men put up a stern fight for much of their BOP division one clash with league leaders Whakatane Town on Saturday.
Whakatane launched themselves at their lowly visitors from the outset of the game, using their speed to try and break open the Rangers defence. However, the visitors had rearranged the backline, pairing Jamaal James and Jimmy Hart at centre backs to counter this. Sam Christieson was also cast into the unusual role of left back and, despite the big positional change around, Plains Rangers coped well with the home team's threats. When Whakatane did break through, Rangers' keeper Christian Wetting was in commanding form at the back and mopped up the through balls. Rangers centre midfield pairing – brothers Petir and Husnul Gray - also caused enough worries to keep the Whakatane defence interested. The home team became frustrated as the half wore on and at the break the game was fair and square at nil all.
Rangers were determined to keep up the intensity in the second half, but then came a major set back. Five minutes into the half, a Rangers shot at goal was stopped by a blatant hand ball by a defender, with the keeper having come out to block the previous shot. However, it went unnoticed. Rangers were still appealing when Whakatane counter attacked and scored. Ten minutes later the home team scored again. Then, with several Rangers players having to come off injured, Whakatane's speed and skill came to the fore and they ended up with a 5 – 0 win.
For Rangers, Sam Christieson was named player of the day, and for Whakatane Shem Clarke took the honours.
This weekend is the second round of the Miller Cup. Plains Rangers are at home to Tauranga City. Kick off is at 2pm at the Edgecumbe Domain.
Unfortunately, Plains Rangers women had to default their Sunday game at Tauranga City.