Plains Rangers men had their toughest challenge of the season on Saturday, when they hosted Tauranga City in BOP division two. Rangers had taken the points in the first round, but a stronger Tauranga line-up came determined to turn the tables.
The first half was a hard fought even affair, with both teams playing good football and putting a lot of pressure on each other. Both teams created a couple of chances. Rangers' best attempt was a looping lob from Phil Ballingall that just cleared the cross bar. With the scores locked at 0 – 0 at half time, it seemed the game might turn on a slice of luck.
Five minutes into the second half, the lucky twist came for the visitors. They had pressure on Rangers and a ball across the Rangers penalty area hit a defender's leg, wrong footing keeper Christian Wetting, and deflected into the goal. Tauranga City turned the screws after this and were rewarded with an unusual penalty. Referee Dave Taylor had awarded a corner kick, but then after discussions with players, he awarded the visitors a penalty, which was converted well. Rangers tried hard to stay in the game. A Rangers corner was narrowly headed over the crossbar by centre back Ian Gray. Midway through the half, Tauranga City made the game safe, with a well worked attack and a good shot. The contest continued to be entertaining. With ten minutes to go Christian Wetting pulled off an outstanding save, palming away a header that was destined for the top corner. Rangers almost scored a late consolation goal when captain Jimmy Hart won the ball and beat three defenders heading into the visitors' penalty area. Just as he was placing his shot, the ball hit a bobble and the strike went just wide. The final score: Plains Rangers 0, Tauranga City 3.
Tauranga were worthy of their win, though Rangers will feel lady luck was not on their side with two of the goals. Jimmy Hart was named player of the day, with Carl Imlig and Sam Christieson also impressing. Rangers will want to bounce back in their final game of the season to be in the mix for second place, behind league winners Taupo. Rangers are away to Waiariki.
On Sunday Plains Rangers women had their final game of the season, at home to Waiariki. They had an enjoyable game with their visitors, who won 3 – 0 in the end. Laura Powick played very well in the centre midfield and was unlucky to hit the post with a good shot. Danielle Haldane and Sarah Boyce were strong at the heart of the Rangers defence, while Julie Reihana impressed with her time as a striker. The whole team shared the player of the day honours.