Rangers started their West Yorkshire League Division One life in blistering style as they beat former County Cup champions Oxenhope 7-2 at the Recreation Ground. It was result that greatly please Manager Dan Marshall and he was quick to praise the influence of First Team Coach Ben Lawrence and all that he has done with the team throughout the pre-season.
It took just 78 seconds for Danny Grannon to open his and Rangers account for the season when a corner wasn’t cleared properly, and Josh Barden picked out Grannon, whose flicked header crept into the corner of the net.
Rangers kept up the pressure and James Woodward saw his long-range shot scooped up by the keeper, before a pin point ball released San Straker down the right wing but his pull back was cleared by the Oxenhope defence.
Getting a hold on the game, the hosts came forward, but both their shots were dealt with by keeper Jonty Smith.
Upping the pressure again, Rob Holliday nearly caught Oxenhope’s rear-guard out with his pace, but at the last moment the ball was hooked away from danger. A couple of minutes later, a brace of corners saw Grannon and Barden both come close.
Smith was called into action and responded with a superb series of saves. Oxenhope broke well and the outstretched foot of the keeper diverted the ball onto the post, before he got up to block the follow up shot. Jumping high, he plucked the ball out of the air before anymore danger could occur.
Twelves minute on the clock and Rangers were celebrating another well worked goal. Collecting the ball on the right wing, Grannon passed back to Andy Maxted, who put in a first time cross that Sam Straker met with a powerful header that flew into the opposite corner of the net.
Rangers were pouring forward and Joe Straker placed a shot wide from outside the area, before Grannon forced a good save from the Oxenhope keeper at his near post.
The combination of Sam Straker and Grannon were giving Oxenhope a torrid time and Straker’s direct running coupled with Grannon’s power saw several chances nearly converted.
Another pinpoint pass from defence released Josh Barden and the forward cut past his man with ease, but his shot was blocked by the lunge of a defender.
Smith was determined to keep a clean sheet and a superb save to his left, after it looked like he had been beaten by the pace of the shot, brought a smattering of applause from the fans behind his goal, however they were all applauding after the custodian pulled off a full length dive to his left to turn Oxenhope’s penalty round the post, following a challenge in the area by the keeper.
As Murphy’s law has it, after some superb saves, Smith was finally beaten, and it was a corker of a header that looped over the custodian and nestled into the net after half an hour.
Rangers regrouped and came forward again and Barden hit a shot just wide before Josh Buckley and Grannon got in each other’s way and the ball sailed over the pair of them! Soon after, Joe Wilks crashed his header into an Oxenhope player on the line.
With thirty-five minutes on the clock, the game was now an end to end affair, but both teams were struggling with the final pass and the defences were proving to be hard to crack.
A clumsy challenge in the final minute of the half on Woodward, just outside the centre circle, saw the ball delivered onto Grannon’s head, but another superb save by the keeper denied the striker his second goal of the game.
Just as in the first half, Rangers started the second half on fire and were 3-1 up after ninety seconds. Some good work down the left by Kieron O’Brien forced a throw-in that picked out Barden, flicking the ball over the ball over the keeper, the ball bounced into the net.
Pressing hard, Sam Straker forced the Oxenhope defender to panic, but he was rescued by a cool clearance by his centre back.
O’Brien was showing his crossing quality when he put in a teasing ball that the keeper did well to divert out for a corner. From the set-piece, the custodian leapt highest to prevent Grannon from getting a header on goal.
The next corner however brought a different outcome when Buckley was left unmarked and powered home his header from eight yards out, despite the attempts of a defender on the line to try and clear it.
Barley thirty seconds later, Rangers were celebrating again when a misplaced pass from the kick-off was intercepted by Grannon, who let fly from thirty-five yards and the ball arrowed into the top corner!
Playing the ball across the front the line, Barden passed to Maxted who had overlapped him, striking the ball well, his shot was blocked by a covering defender and moments later, Grannon flicked on a cross to Joe Wilks who had slipped his marker, but his shot went high.
A double substitution on the hour saw Roman Neal and Jack Cheetham replace Holliday and Sam Straker, and it was nearly Neal who added his name to the scoresheet sixty seconds later when his half volley just cleared the back post.
Rangers were having all the attacking play now and it came as no surprise when they increased their lead to 6-1 after 63 minutes. Again, a pinpoint deep cross by Maxted was headed home by the unmarked Neal.
With the introduction of Daniel Slater for James Woodward, Rangers produced another couple of good chances, but misplaced passes stopped Cheetham and Neal in their tracks.
Rangers were in seventh heaven in the 70th minute when Neal controlled a ball from midfield and raced towards the Oxenhope box. Crossing to the other wing, Cheetham beat the keeper with his first touch and slotted home with his second.
As to be expected with such a healthy lead, Rangers took their foot off the gas and Oxenhope started to find themselves more and more on the front foot. A good backwards diving save by Smith stopped the hosts from scoring, but even he couldn’t prevent a superb shot from the corner of the box from dipping over him and into the net in the 86th minute.
Report by Pete Arnett.
Team: Smith, O’Brien, Maxted, Wilks, Buckley J, Straker J, Woodward, Holliday, Barden, Grannon, Straker S.
Subs: Neal (for Straker 60mins), Cheetham (for Holliday (60 mins), Slater (for Woodward 65 mins)
Referee: Vincent Gelder
No cards given to either team.
KDRFC Man Of the Match (as chosen by the Management) was Sam Straker – he ran the first half, scored a great goal and was a constant threat with his pace and passing. Not bad for his first start of the season!
First Team Coach Ben Lawrence was also delighted with what he had seen
“The work we did on the training pitch and the tactics board all came together today, I’m very pleased with the lads.”