A goal by Captain Luke Dubery in the 79th minute settled this game, but it was an afternoon of frustration for Dan Marshall’s men as a battling Oxenhope denied Rangers time after time.
The match nearly didn’t commence due to multiple Oxenhope players caught in the traffic from the road closures around the district, but with the referee’s deadline fast approaching, enough bodies arrived and the game kicked-off 23 minutes late and with the visitors decked out in our away kit.
If Rangers were hoping that the lack of preparation time for Oxenhope would play into their hands, then they were wrong as Recreation closed down well at the back and forced Deighton into long shots which didn’t trouble the keeper.
It took a set piece from Josh Barden that picked out John Large to see Rangers come close, but his header went just over the bar.
Some lax tackling from both teams saw a flurry of free-kicks handed out, but defensively, both sides easily dealt with what was thrown at them.
Rangers seemed to be more comfortable attacking down the left-hand side and Dan Flynn and Rob Holliday were seeing a lot of the ball in advanced positions. Combining well with Josh Barden and Charlie Yates, the latter saw his shot blocked by a defender, before Jack Holliday was fouled trying to get to the loose ball. Floating the ball into the area, Barden saw his cross just bypass the unmarked Josh Buckley at the back post.
Oxenhope had their first shot in the 12th minute when a good move down the right allowed their striker to shoot, fortunately it was well over Jonty Smith’s crossbar.
The game was stopped whilst an Oxenhope player received lengthy treatment after both him and Flynn had gone in for a sliding tackle.
The Holliday’s were causing problems down the flanks, and a long shot from Rob was claimed by the keeper before his younger brother tried to nip in between the custodian and a defender, but lost out to the glovesman.
Rangers build up play was impressive with Rob Holliday being the chief tormenter, but Oxenhope stood firm and shots from Yates, Barden and James Woodward were all blocked on route to goal.
The visitors sprung a counter attack when a good run down the left required a superb interception by Andy Maxted who had tracked his opponent well.
A swift move down the right saw Rob Holliday’s pull back miskicked by Yates, however the ball spun to the other side where Jack Holliday put in a cross that was header goalwards by his brother. However, a full-length dive by the keeper saw him smoother the ball.
Rangers were turning the screw and play was maintained in Oxenhope’s half, but a solid defensive display, coupled with several misplaced passes meant that chances came and went with both Yates, Barden and Woodward all seeing shots blocked.
Half Time: Kirk Deighton Rangers 0 v 0 Oxenhope Recreation
The second half started with Oxenhope playing down the right, but both Flynn and Buckley combined to shepherd the ball back to Smith.
Rangers countered and a dangerous cross by Rob Holliday couldn’t be turned goalwards, and then a chip into the area by Yates ran through to the keeper with Barden baring down on him.
A one-two by Rob Holliday and Yates saw the striker scamper to the by-line before crossing to Jack Holliday, his looping header beat the keeper but, much to the frustration of all watching, landed on top of the net.
It was Jack who threatened again with another header after Dubery managed to keep a long pass just in play. Looking up, he whipped his cross in to Jack, but his header went wide of the back post.
Oxenhope tried their luck with a long ball over Rangers midfield, but reading and watching it well, Buckley headed back to Smith under pressure.
The visitors were awarded a free-kick near the touchline, 20 yards outside Deighton’s area. Swinging in a deep cross, neither team could get anything on it and the ball went out the other side.
Marshall decided to reshape his pack in the 62nd minute when Harvey Ribbons replaced Maxted in defence.
With the match kissing the 65th minute, Rob Holliday thought he had given Rangers the lead when he cut across the edge of the area and unleashed a curling shot that left Oxenhope’s keeper grasping fresh air as it flew past him. However, his effort smashed into the inside of the post and bounced along the line before somehow evading the far post!
The chances were starting to mount for Rangers and twice Buckley was involved from Barden’s corners, but he couldn’t control his headers and they went over.
Rangers had a strong call for a penalty rejected by Mr McGeorge, when Dubery appeared to be pushed from behind whilst jumping to head a Barden corner.
A superb through ball released Yates and cutting across the box, he dragged the ball wide of the last defender before placing wide of the keeper and agonisingly, just over the bar.
With the feeling of a draw starting to settle around Barr Field, our captain had other ideas when he collected a cross from Rob Holliday, and steered his shot under the diving keeper and into the net.
The goal seemed to spark a sense of urgency in Rangers and the passing and movement was sharper, but that final ball still presented problems and both Jack and Rob Holliday had shots collected by the keeper.
Substitutes Josh Bhandal and Conor Buckley (who had replaced Woodward and Flynn respectively) combined well to feed Ribbons on the right, his shot slammed into Yates’s chest and dribbled just wide of the post leaving the striker shaking his head and rubbing his chest!
With three minutes remaining Rangers won a free kick right on the edge of the area after a handball by the Oxenhope skipper. Bhandal played the ball into Barden’s path, but the unmarked midfielder fired over from a tight angle.
In true Rangers fashion, Oxenhope nearly snatched a last-minute equaliser when their striker powered in a shot that required Smith to tip over at full stretch.
Full Time: Kirk Deighton Rangers 1 v 0 Oxenhope Recreation
Match Report by Pete Arnett
We would like to say a massive thank you to S.D. Newband (Painter & Decorator) who sponsored today's match.
Team: Smith, Maxted, Flynn, Dubery, Large, Buckley.J, Woodward, Holliday.R, Barden, Yates, Holliday.J Subs: Ribbons (Maxted 62), Bhandal (Woodward 65), Buckley.C (Flynn 80)
Goals: Dubery (79 min)
Sin-Bin: Kirk Deighton Rangers (0 players) Oxenhope Recreation (0 players)
Yellow Cards: Rangers (Woodward) Oxenhope Recreation (0 players)
Red Cards: Rangers (0 players) Oxenhope Recreation (0 players)
Referee: Mr Alex McGeorge
Kirk Deighton Rangers B&F Electrical Distributors Man Of The Match Award: Rob Holliday