Plains Rangers FC
16 May 2023
Whakatane Town 0, Rangers men 1
On Tuesday evening, Plains Rangers and Whakatane Town finally met in a catch-up Miller Cup game, under lights in Whakatane. The fixture had been postponed more than once for various reasons, and great calm conditions set a good scene for a much-anticipated local derby. Because Whakatane are in Bay division one and Rangers division two, this was the only time the teams would meet in the season.
Rangers started well, not allowing Whakatane to settle and had the upper hand for a while. Elijah Wetting and Jesse Meadows both had good strikes on goal. The home team then got some good passing moves going and created a number of good chances, but couldn't get them on target. Late in the half Rangers' player-coach Christian Wetting brought himself into the fray as an attacker and this swung the structure of the game with Wetting winning a lot of the challenges. At half time the score was 0 – 0.
The game sprang into action in the second half. After five minutes ref Dave Taylor awarded Whakatane a penalty, despite protests from Rangers that the fouled player was off-side. Rangers' keeper Josiah Atkinson went the right way to save the well-struck spot kick. Two minutes later Sam McPherson swung a free kick across the Whakatane goal. Rangers' skipper James Hart headed it back across goal and Jesse Meadows headed it in to give Rangers the lead, to the delight of their vocal supporters. The visitors kept up the pressure, not allowing Whakatane to play composed football. Whakatane defenders managed to clear shots off their goal line and late in the game Christian Wetting put a shot over the bar from a corner. Rangers ran the clock down in the last minutes to preserve their precious lead and take the win 1 – 0.
The result means Rangers will play in the Miller Cup in the next round in early June, while Whakatane Town will compete in the Miller Bowl. It also means Rangers retain the Sponsors' Trophy, which is played for between the men's teams of the two clubs. Rangers will be very happy with their total team performance, built on a no-nonsense approach to defending. Goalkeeper Josiah Atkinson was named player of the day. Rangers men are back to league action this Saturday, playing Waiariki in Rotorua.
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