Match Report: Harlow Hill 2 v 3 Kirk Deighton Rangers Reserves

Following their 4-1 defeat against Harrogate Railway Athletic Reserves on Thursday, Kris Macdonald’s men knew that they had to produce an instant response against the current Harrogate & District Premier League Champions.

Early movement down the right flank saw Rangers probe through Will Hodson, but the hosts closed him down well and play was forced back into the middle of the park.

Harlow showed their attacking side when a surging run down the right ended with their player suddenly stopping and trying to pull the ball back. Despite aiming for a yellow shirt, Rich Jenner stepped in and cleared the danger.

Rangers game plan was to use the wings, and good combination play between Rob and Jack Holliday saw the latter fire in a low cross that Chris Plews received. Marshalled well however, Plews was pushed away from goal and was eventually tackled as he tried to turn.

Following a spell of pressure from Harlow, it took another good clearance by Jenner to keep the scores level after Jonny Atkinson had mis-hit his goal kick. A few minutes later and Deighton breathed a sigh of relief as a neat Harlow move ended with a shot going wide of the far post.

Rich Jenner shapes to shoot.

Rangers forced their way back into the game and a strong run by Andy Maxted was ended just on the edge of the box. Moments later, following a corner, the referee was waving away shouts for a handball as the ball was booted out of the area.

The hosts took the lead in the 19th minute when a long ball caught out Rangers and their striker raced onto it before firing past Atkinson.

Fighting back, Hodson drove down the right and picked out Sam Straker, beating his marker, Straker fired the ball through the six-yard box, but no Rangers player could turn it home.

Rangers found the equaliser on the half hour mark, when Plews and Straker combined well. This time, Straker’s pass found Jack Holliday in the area and he drilled the ball home.

The referee had chosen to play three thirty minutes halves, and the second third started with Rangers on the attack and a header by Plews, following a corner, flew over the crossbar.

With 38 minutes played on the clock, Holliday scored again when he beat the offside trap, raced into the area and finished off with strong shot that the Harlow keeper could only help into the net.

It was Rangers turn to escape a strong handball shout when a free-kick from Harlow travelled high into the area, only to be stopped by what look like an arm. However, the referee turned his back on the protesting players and the game continued.

James Woodward and Si Wright were having solid matches, and there tackling was helping to commence several attacks which resulted in both Liam Dean and George Thewell having long shots that were charged down or saved.

Harlow reminded Rangers that they were still in a game when a free kick was headed just over from close range.

Sam Straker goes for goal

Daley Johnson came close to making it 3-1 to Rangers when he robbed a defender just outside Harlow’s area, curling his shot past the stranded keeper, unfortunately he also placed it past the wrong side of the post.

Rangers had taken hold of the game and a deep free-kick was close to being converted on the bounce by Michael McCartney, however the speed of the ball deceived him and the chance was gone. Dean was also close soon after when he flashed another shot just wide.

The final third started with Rob Holliday’s cross flashing past the tip of the Hodson’s outstretched foot.

A quick counter by the hosts ended in a corner and it took a good save with his foot by Atkinson to divert the ball wide. From the second corner, Harlow nearly pulled level when the ball fell to an unmarked player at the back post, but he could only poke his shot wide.

Rangers did increase their lead in the 81st minute when Hodson managed to poke home from on the line after his original shot had been blocked. The chance was made when Rob Holliday skipped past his marker near the corner flag and placed his cross into Hodson’s path.

Two minutes later and Rangers had a goal chalked off when Alex Diggle and Straker combined to free Hodson. However, as he rounded the keeper and slotted home, the referee blew for offside.

Harlow came close again from another dangerous corner when Diggle diverted the ball towards his own goal. Diving to his left, Atkinson caught the ball to save any blushes.

The play was moving from end to end, and a deep cross by John-Paul Williams bounced over Hodson as he leapt to meet it.

Down the other end and a penalty was finally awarded in the last minute when a clumsy challenge was penalised by the referee. Stepping up, Atkinson proved equal to the first kick when he dived to his left and clutched the ball. However, an encroaching Rangers player forced a retake and the Harlow player made no mistake drilling the ball high into the net.

Report by Pete Arnett.

Match Squad: Atkinson, Williams, Spencer, Jenner, McCartney, Straker, Hodson, Maxted, Holliday R, Plews, Holliday J

Subs: Dean, Thelwell, Woodward, Diggle, Wright. Johnson

Goals: Holliday J (2), Hodson

Sin Bins: Rangers - No players // Harlow Hill – One player

Yellow Cards: No players // Harlow Hill – No players

Red Cards: No players // Harlow Hill – No players

Rangers Man Of The Match: Sam Straker

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