Plains Rangers AFC
18th September 2021
Plains Rangers 2, Tauranga City 3
A combination of sunny weather, the first game back after covid lockdown and the last home game of the season set the scene for a thriller when Plains Rangers hosted Tauranga City on Saturday. The players were keen to be out on the pitch and hoped they wouldn't be too rusty after the break of five weeks without football. Rangers knew it would be a hard challenge with the Tauranga side having beaten them 5 – 2 earlier in the season.
The home team nearly got off to a flier when Hamish Wilde got through down the left and his shot bounced back off the far post. However, rustiness did cost Rangers two minutes later when a poor pass in defence was intercepted by a City striker and he scored a well taken goal. The visitors had the better of the next twenty minutes, forcing a number of corners. On the half hour Tauranga capitalised on their control, with Rob Leetcher scoring a nice volley from the edge of the box following another corner. Rangers had the bad luck to lose left back Jacob Davis to a serious looking knee injury and went into the half time break at 2 – 0 down.
The second half saw the home team starting to gain a better share of control and the moves started to flow. The game was well fought with both sides playing surprisingly good football considering the long lay-off. Rangers finally made a breakthrough in a dramatic flurry of action in the final twenty minutes. Substitute Kaleb Muggeridge was involved in a fine team move, got to the line and provided a nice cross for Wilde to bury in the net. Game on! Three minutes later a Tauranga defender restored his team's advantage when a long curling ball forward sailed into the top corner of the goal. Four minutes after that, Wilde was fouled 25 metres from goal. Captain James Hart stepped up and blasted a free kick in to make the score 3 – 2 to the visitors. The final ten minutes were exciting for the spectators as the teams pushed for the win. Tauranga City held on.
The game had been played in good competitive spirit and it was very well controlled by referee Neil McCready. Rangers player of the day was centre back Matt Dalgity, who with Carl Imlig had done a great job of their defensive duties. Others to impress included young wingers Levi McIntyre and Elijah Wetting and the tireless Phil Ballingall up front.
This weekend Rangers are away to Rotorua United.