Football’s a funny old game! A terrible first half performance saw Rangers gift Hall Green a two-goal advantage, but the second half saw the leaders hanging on as Rangers laid siege to their goal. However, a breakaway goal in the final minutes put paid to any fairy-tale comeback!
It was Deighton who had the first real sniff of a chance when Rob Holliday’s shot was diverted out for a corner. From the resultant set-piece, the referee penalised Luke Dubery for a foul on his counterpart and Hall Green were able to clear.
Hall Green countered and a hurried clearance by Rangers slammed into a United attacker and he managed to get his shot away under pressure. Fortunately for the blue shirts, the ball bounced wide of the far post.
Holliday had another chance when some neat passing saw the ball land in front of him. Hitting the ball too cleanly, it cleared the crossbar and landed in the field behind the goal.
The leaders showed their battling side when a lovely run down the left ended in a shot just crashing past Jonty Smith’s post.
Some neat interplay saw Joe Straker pick out Yates. Doubling back, he slipped the ball to Kieron O’Brien who picked put Will Bates with a teasing cross. Rising well, Bates got his head to the ball but was unable to direct it goalwards.
Rangers suffered a couple of scares when a free-kick travelled through the area and then minutes later a shot from just inside the area flew a couple of feet wide.
Deighton nearly took the lead in comical fashion when a defensive header looped into the air and forced the keeper to back pedal. Grabbing the ball, but still falling backwards, he stuck his arms out and placed the ball on the line despite Rangers insistence that he had carried the ball into the net. Mr Stewart agreed with the custodian and the game restarted.
The games first goal arrived in the 33rd minute, and it was a scrappy one for Rangers to concede. A bad pass in midfield allowed the Hall Green player to muscle his way past Buckley and shoot past Smith at the near post.
The match was an end to end affair with a powerful run by Dave McKay stopped when his cross was blocked. The ball was swept long to the other end where a fierce shot flew past Smith’s post.
Some good play down the right wing in the 38th minute culminated with a cross that was cleared into the path of a Hall Green player at the back post, and he thrashed his shot high into the net.
Bates came close to halving the deficit on two occasions when his first attempt went just wide, and then the keeper managed to parry the ball out of play following a shot from a narrow angle, after the custodian had pushed Yates’s original shot wide.
There was a reprieve for Rangers in the 44th minute when Bates played the ball into Yates’s path. Stepping across his man, Yates’s low shot from outside the area beat the keeper and nestled into the net.
A mistimed challenge from Smith barely thirty seconds later gave Hall Green a penalty and saw the custodian given a lengthy lecture by Mr Stewart. Seconds later, he was picking the ball out of his net as the spot-kick was converted.
Half Time: Hall Green United 3 v 1 Kirk Deighton Rangers
Hall Green started where they had left off, on the front foot! A lightning attack saw a deep cross float over a sea of heads and out of play.
Rangers retaliated with some slick wing play of their own through Josh Barden, and Joe Wilks put in a quality delivery that was just plucked away from Bates by the keeper.
With Hall Green threatening again, Dubery stood tall and produced two towering headers to head the ball clear.
The pendulum of possession suddenly swung into Rangers favour and Hall Green found themselves penned back into their own half as Deighton started to throw ball after ball into the area. Some good play by Barden, Bates and Yates saw the latter win a corner after his shot was deflected. From the delivery by O’Brien, Dubery headed just wide of the back post.
The first substitution saw Yates replaced by Grannon in the 56th minute with the instructions to get in the thick of it.
The 58th minute saw Rangers back in the game when Dubery pounced on a lax header in the area and fired a superb half volley into the back of the net.
Smith had to be alert in the 68th minute when he dived forward full length to punch a low swirling cross out of his area with a striker bearing down on him.
Two half chances fell to Rangers when Holliday had to turn and shoot in one motion as he was quickly closed down. Minutes later, a brave diving header from United’s centre back took the ball away from Bates as he looked to sprint free.
Hall Green restored their two-goal lead against the run of play in the 70th minute when the ball was swept home from close range. However such was this game, that a couple of minutes later it was 4-3 when Grannon reacted first to a parried save from the keeper, who should have done better from Bates’s original shot.
It was Grannon who nearly turned provider from another corner when his looping header just needed a touch at the opposite post, but no Rangers player had gambled!
Smith produced another good save from an overhead kick in the area, before his opposite number stopped Buckley’s downwards header from creeping in at the far past. A few minutes later, and with time starting to runout, Hall Green’s keeper was the hero when he stuck out his foot and diverted Wilks’s fierce shot clear.
Despite all the pressure that Rangers were applying, fate intervened and following a break by Hall Green, Smith pulled off a double save, but could do nothing as the third shot was lifted over him and into the roof of the net.
The final attack of the match saw Dubery produce a back-heel flick that crashed into the arm of the covering defender, but not for the first time, Mr Stewart waved away the penalty claim, and the ball was cleared.
Report by Pete Arnett
Team: Smith, Wilks, O’Brien, Dubery, Buckley.J, Straker, McKay (Woodward, 67), Barden, Holliday (Turley 74), Bates, Yates (Grannon 56) Unused subs: Richards, Buckley.C
Goals: Yates (44), Dubery (58), Grannon (72)
Yellow Cards: Rangers - Buckley (dissent, 78) Woodward (foul, 89) Hall Green United – None
Red Cards: Rangers – None Hall Green United – None
Referee: Mr Lee Stewart
Kirk Deighton Rangers Man of the Match (Chosen by Dan Marshall) In a terrible first half, one player showed determination and courage. In the second period he pushed and pushed the team and scored a superb goal. This one was given to Luke Dubery.