Plains Rangers AFC

14th August 2021
Otumoetai 1, Plains Rangers 2

Plains Rangers were keen to end their sequence of close 1 – 0 losses when they travelled to take on Otumoetai FC on Saturday. The home team won the toss and started the game with the strong wind at their back. Rangers had a very rearranged backline and Otumoetai's first attack found some indecision and they cut through to score! Rangers knuckled down to the task, started stringing together some passes and soon had a reply. A strong shot from captain James Hart in the midfield floated over the keeper's head to even up the scores. The game developed into a free flowing affair, both teams launching attacks in their turn. Twenty five minutes in, Rangers created a beautiful team goal. Ian Gray, standing in for Christian Wetting in goal, played the ball forward to Earle Tuhimata, it went out to Kaleb Muggeridge, who found the hard working Phil Ballingall up front. Ballingall squared the ball to fellow striker Sione Lotu on the edge of the penalty area. Lotu turned and hit an unsavable left footed shot to put the visitors in front. Rangers by this stage had their structure functioning well and looked the more likely, but the home team used the wind to keep the pressure on. Late in the half Otumoetai almost equalised, but Hamish Wilde got back to block a certain goal on the goal-line and it was scrambled away to safety. At half time Rangers led 2 – 1.
After the break Rangers did have the weakening breeze behind them, but Otumoetai were able to rotate their substitutes to try to grab the initiative back. It was an even contest, but Rangers' determination to maintain their lead got them there in the end. The final score remained 2 – 1.
Ian Gray was named player of the day for his performance in an unfamiliar position. Several other players were also outstanding: Ballingall and Lotu up front, midfielders Wilde, Hart and young Levi McIntyre and centre back Carl Imlig.
This Saturday Rangers are at home to Tauranga City and will hope to reverse the result from the first round. Kick off at the Edgecumbe Domain is at 2pm.