Rangers’ year ended in dramatic fashion after an incident involving the referee and an Aberford spectator ended with the game being abandoned, with around 70 minutes being played!
The game had already seen the hosts number nine dismissed for dissent in the 33rd minute, but despite that, the chances had been plentiful for both teams, with perhaps Aberford having the clearest one when a delightfully weighted chipped shot crashed back off the upright and was cleared.
The match started with Rangers on the attack and Charlie Yates being the thorn in the Aberford defence. However, close attention from the defence meant that, despite good link up play from Josh Barden, Joe Turley and Yates, the closest they got within the first ten minutes was a long shot from Joe Straker that went just wide of the post.
It was Straker, picking up a reverse pass from Yates, who nearly opened the scoring in the 11th minute, but as he bore down on goal, his touch deserted him, and the custodian made an easy save to his left. Moments later, Yates sprinted into the area, but his shot was cleared into touch by a returning defender.
Aberford showed their quality in attack, and Jonty Smith displayed his agility when he got down to his right to beat out a fierce volley at the backpost. Rangers were also indebted to Jon Richards, Dave McKay, Luke Dubery, Dan Slater and Conor Buckley who all made timely interventions, tackles or blocks as Albion swept forward.
Rangers were forced into a change in the 43rd minute when, sandwiched between two jumping Aberford players, McKay suffered a head injury which Mr Grant had to immediately stop the game for. Fortunately, after a length of time, McKay was able to walk off the pitch unaided to be replaced by Jack Abbott.
Despite being down to ten men, the league leaders were still looking dangerous when they came forward, and another shot from a narrow angle just cleared the post by a short distance.
The second half was a more balanced affair, despite the uneven numbers on the pitch, and with Rangers trying to utilise pace down the wings, several promising positions arose for the team in blue, but the final decision was the area of concern for the management as chances were wasted or snatched at.
A lovely piece of play by Aberford down the middle of the pitch ended with the post coming to Rangers’ rescue after a clever chip looked to have beaten Smith. Minutes later, Richards produced another towering header and Abbott cleared as Aberford threatened again.
Rangers were knocking on the door and a long-range header by Turley, after a great tackle and cross from Joe Wilks needed dealing with by the keeper. Two minutes later a free kick nearly picked out Dubery, but he couldn’t stretch far enough to send the ball goalwards.
It was the pace of Yates that looked to be Rangers way of breaking a defence that had only been breached seven times at Bunker’s Hill, but despite trickery from both him and Barden, no clear-cut chance could be fashioned, and the game remained goalless.
With Mr Grant heading over to the Aberford’s bench to speak to a member of the home team’s management, he returned to the pitch to inform the players that the game had ended prematurely.
As a result of the incident, we will be making no further statement until the matter has been reviewed by the FA.
Report by Pete Arnett
Team: Smith, Wilks, Buckley, Richards, Straker.J, Dubery, McKay, Turley, Slater, Yates, Barden.
Subs: Abbott (McKay 43)
Not Used: Wood, Woodard, Straker.S, O'Brien
Yellow Cards: Aberford: None. Rangers: Dubery (dissent)
Red Cards: Aberford: Number 9 (33 min). Rangers: None
Referee: Mr Dean Grant