Plains Rangers FC
2 September 2023
Rangers men 1, Papamoa United 3
Plains Rangers men played their final home game of the season on Saturday, when they hosted Papamoa United in summery conditions at the Edgecumbe Domain. Papamoa were sitting third on the table, so Rangers knew they needed to produce their best football to have a chance of taking the game. Only eight minutes into the game Rangers almost opened the scoring, when player-coach Christian Wetting curled a free kick around a defensive wall and agonizingly centimetres outside the top corner of the Papamoa goal. A free-flowing game saw both sides creating chances and the visitors took one of theirs when their striker got the better of a Rangers defender to score a good goal. Rangers refreshed their front line midway through the half and Earle Tuhimata added a good attacking threat and kept the Papamoa defence on their toes. Late in the half Ronan Mitchell came close to an equaliser, receiving the ball at an attacking corner and almost flicking the ball past the keeper. At half time Papamoa led 1 – 0.
Rangers came out strongly after the interval and again went close, a well hit free kick from Wetting bounced off the crossbar with the keeper beaten. However, the visitors weathered the storm and extended their lead after twenty minutes, opening up a gap in the Rangers defence to score. Rangers tried once more to hit back and a well hit shot from centre defender Sam McPherson was tipped over the bar by the keeper. Papamoa then got a bit lucky, as a long high ball was sent in at the same angle as the sun and Rangers' keeper couldn't keep it out. Rangers again fought to come back and finally had success. The hard-working Ben McPherson hit a volley which was parried by keeper, but striker Phil Ballingall was quickest to react and put the ball in the net. Rangers tried their best to make more inroads over the final fifteen minutes, launching plenty of attacks and Papamoa resorted to clearing the ball well downfield to successfully protect their lead. The final score was Plains Rangers 1, Papamoa United 3.
The outcome of the game was typical of Rangers' season: periods of good play, but without many chances being turned into goals. Rangers stalwart Chris Butler was welcomed back to his sideline duties after a few weeks' absence and was named player of the day for his contribution to the team. This Saturday Rangers have their final fixture of the season, with an away trip to play the already-crowned league winners Tauranga City Juggernauts. Rangers will hope to have a change in fortunes and finish the season on a high.
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