A second-half goal by Charlie Yates settled this affair, but it will be the stunning strikes by both Joe Wilks and Josh Bhandal that will live long in the mind!
With Oxenhope gaining their first win of the season last weekend having over Wetherby Athletic, Rangers knew that this would be a tough match, and were right!
Rangers started the match well and Yates forced the keeper into a hurried clearance after only a minute. It was the striker’s pass to Wilks that allowed him to step inside his man and unleash a shot that flew past the keeper and into the top corner to give Deighton a fourth-minute advantage.
Jack Holliday showed early signs of being a menace to Oxenhope’s defence, but he was well marshalled by the two full-backs and found getting his crosses in difficult.
Rangers were trying to use the ball over the top as a way of bypassing the marshy pitch, but they came across a resilient backline who managed to repel several promising attacks.
Yates came close to adding a second when a neat one-two with Wilks, allowed Jack Holliday to whip in a low ball that Yates and the defender stretched for with the latter winning the duel.
Deighton were piling on the pressure and a decent save pushed Yates’s shot wide from a tight angle before the subsequent corner fell to Josh Bhandal, but his shot flew over.
It took until the 17th minute for Oxenhope to test Jonty Smith, but when they did, it needed the custodian to dive to his right and push the ball wide.
The home side started to come into the game and it needed a brave header from Luke Dubery to flick the ball away from the lurking striker.
With 20 minutes on the clock, it was all level as a deep cross from the left wing was steered past his keeper by the unlucky Joe Turley.
Aiming to get back on the front foot, Rangers attacked from the whistle and both Rob Holliday and his brother combined, but the final cross was overhit.
Rangers restored their lead in the 23rd minute and it was a superb goal by Bhandal, who had reacted to a half-headed clearance fastest and unleased a dipping half-volley from outside the area that left the keeper grasping thin air as it struck the back of the net.
Jack Holliday was left head in hands as his lunge towards the ball, following a cross by Harvey Ribbons, failed to divert the ball goalwards.
Again, Rangers took their foot off the gas and a shot from the edge of the box by Oxenhope went just wide before Smith had to produce another good save low to his right to push a long-range shot clear. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the same outcome in the 37th minute when failure to press allowed the orange shirts to easily pass into the middle of the area and the striker fired past Smith.
The half ended with several half chances for Rangers, but try as they might Jack Holliday and Yates were unable to find the finishing touch.
Half-Time: Oxenhope Recreation 2 v 2 Kirk Deighton Rangers
Playing down the slope, Jack Holliday, Wilks and Yates all combined, but with no movement in the middle of the area, the ball went through to the keeper.
Bhandal nearly had the away side cheering, when he latched onto a half clearance from Yates’s original shot, but his powerful shot went just wide of the post.
A free-kick by Wilks, after a foul on Bhandal, was just too high for Dubery to heads towards goal, but Rangers were trying hard.
Oxenhope won a dangerous free-kick just outside Rangers area and it was Josh Barden who came off the worse as the shot slammed into his side.
The hosts were turning the screw and good play down the left ended when a fierce shot was straight down the throat of Smith.
The winning goal arrived in the 57th minute after Yates had sprinted onto a missed ball by Oxenhope’s defender. Pacing into the area, the striker squeezed his shot between the keeper and his near post to notch his 10th of the season.
John Large and Dubery were having a busy time keeping Oxenhope’s strikers in check, but it took a brave dive at feet by Smith to stop the hosts from equalising in the 65th minute.
Both keepers were heavily involved as Smith again had to dive to push a stinging shot wide, whilst his counterpart had to block two shots in rapid succession from Barden and Yates.
Oxenhope took control of the game once more, and it needed a superbly timed tackle by Dubery to clear the ranks before the referee infuriated the home side with two offside decisions.
Pushing back up the pitch James Woodward, who had replaced Jack Holliday, battled hard in the area, but was forced back. Seconds later Wilks put in a teasing cross to the back post that had the keeper at full stretch to collect before Yates pounced.
Rangers hit another purple patch and forced the hosts to retreat, however, long-range shots from Yates and Bhandal failed to trouble the keeper.
With play swinging between teams, it took another superb save from Smith to deny Oxenhope, before Yates lifted his shot over the keeper and watched as it smashed into the far post, bounce along the line, hit the other post before the custodian fell on it!
Lady luck was shining on Rangers when a strong run ended with Deighton’s defence unable to close down the striker, but with the goal at his mercy, he pulled his shot wide.
Wilks came close to extending Rangers lead when his curling free-kick, from a narrow-angle, was beaten clear by the keeper with no blue-shirted player able to capitalise.
Full-Time: Oxenhope Recreation 2 v 3 Kirk Deighton Rangers
Match Report by Pete Arnett
Team: Smith, Turley, Ribbons, Bhandal, Large, Dubery, Holliday.R, Barden, Yates, Wilks, Holliday.J. Subs: Flynn (Ribbons 31), Woodward (Holliday.J 68)
Goals: Wilks (4), Bhandal (23), Yates
Sin-Bin: Rangers (none), Oxenhope Recreation (1 player)
Yellow Cards: Rangers (Dubery), Oxenhope Recreation (2 players)
Red Cards: Rangers (none), Oxenhope Recreation (none)
Referee: Mr Abdul Hakimy.
Kirk Deighton Rangers B&F Electrical Wholesalers Man Of The Match: Josh Bhandal