Plains Rangers AFC
25th September 2021
Rotorua United 1, Plains Rangers 1
On Saturday Plains Rangers travelled to play Rotorua United in their second last game of the season. The home team seemed considerably reinforced compared with the last time the two sides met. The home team started off strongly and it took a couple of good interventions from left back Kaleb Muggeridge to get Rangers out of difficulty. Ten minutes in, Rangers launched a fast counterattack. Striker Phil Ballingall got in a terrific shot from 20 metres, but it was brilliantly saved by the Rotorua keeper. Five minutes later it was Rangers' stand-in keeper Ian Gray's turn to deny a break-through attack, getting off his line to thwart the striker. While Rotorua had the better share of possession in the first half, their keeper was called on once more to deny Rangers. Captain Jimmy Hart bent a fierce free kick around the wall. The keeper could only parry the shot and then dived bravely at the feet of the onrushing Rangers players to claim the loose ball. At half time the score was locked up at 0 – 0.
Rotorua finally opened the scoring after the break. A good cross from the right was finished off from close range. Rangers started switching their attacks, with Muggeridge making ground down the left, then Shane Baillie taking them on down the right. However, it was the tireless persistence of Ballingall that opened the chance for Rangers to equalise. He won the ball from a retreating defender and pulled it back across goal. Hart kept his nerve to place his shot from outside the box past the diving keeper and into the far corner of the goal. Both teams worked hard to gain the winner over the final twenty minutes. Ballingall was desperately unlucky to hit the post in the final minutes, so the final score remained 1 – 1.
The Rangers team would be satisfied with their high work rate and their ability to keep out some speedy home team forwards. Player of the day was Carl Imlig, who with fellow centre defender Jon Barnes, did a fine job limiting the Rotorua threats. Phil Ballingall was also in outstanding form.
This Saturday Rangers play their final game, this time away to Ngongotaha. They will have to do it without midfield dynamo Hamish Wilde, who will be turning his attention to the start of the cricket season. Rangers will also hope the home team don't strengthen too much from clubmates in higher leagues whose seasons have finished. The game kicks off at Ngongotaha at 12.30pm.