A scintillating second-half performance from Rangers not only produced four goals, but more than made up for a dreary, wind ruined first period, that even the most enthusiastic supporter of either side would have struggled to find much joy in!
The match was on uncertain footing from the beginning when a waterlogged corner of the main pitch meant that the game had to be transferred down the road and onto the Reserve pitch. Approaching the new venue, it became apparent that the prevailing wind would play its part in proceedings.
As expected, both teams struggled from the off and made little headway. Rangers’ chances in the opening fifteen minutes came from long goal-kicks by Jonty Smith, but Danny Grannon shot wide with the first attempt and Josh Barden could only shoot straight into the gloves of Andrew Doey.
Pool found playing into the wind difficult and were often forced back by either the conditions or resolute defending, especially from the pairing of Josh Buckley and Dave McKay, who were well assisted by James Woodward and Joe Straker.
A mistake by Doey nearly allowed Barden to take advantage, but as the striker pulled the trigger, the ball appeared to hit the hand of a grounded defender. Having a good look at it, Mr Woods adjudged that the player couldn’t get out of the way and awarded Rangers a corner.
Linking well with Kieron O’Brien down the left, Rob Holliday broke free from Billy Drake and cut into the area, but the wind caught hold of his shot and the ball lashed into the side netting.
Pool showed a good turn of pace to move the ball from left to right and the initial cross was only half cleared. Seizing on the rebound, another cross picked out left back Ian Nobel at the far post, but he found himself crowded out as he tried to shoot.
A neat turn and shot inside the area by Grannon warmed Doey’s palms in the 29th minute, but the custodian stood firm and took the ball well.
Rangers were trying, but Pool provided an answer for everything thrown at them. Doey again denied Barden and Grannon, and both Jordan Wagstaff and Josh Waite also provided timely interceptions.
A quick break by Pool down the middle was nullified when McKay slid in to dispose Ryan Firth, just as it looked like he might gain valuable space to shoot.
With Rangers trying to benefit from playing with the wind behind them, Luke Dubery had a duo of chances, the latter being a header that just missed by a couple of feet.
The hosts nearly took the lead moments before half-time when a cross from the right was met on the half volley at the back post, fortunately for Rangers, the shot spun wide and into the bushes behind Smith’s goal.
Half-Time: Pool AFC 0 v 0 Kirk Deighton Rangers
A change of formation by Dan Marshall paid dividends within four minutes of the restart, when Grannon swept home Barden's cross from a few yards out as Pool claimed, in vain, that he was offside.
Stung into action, the hosts won a free-kick on the half way line that needed a good leap and header from Buckley to clear the danger.
Barden, who was causing headaches for Pool’s backline, nearly scored in the 52nd minute, but Wagstaff managed to edge in front of him to get the block in at the vital moment.
It was hearts in mouth time for Rangers three minutes later when a deep throw by Pool travelled through the six-yard box, needing just the faintest of touches to turn home. With white shirts arriving, the pace of the ball was too great, and it squirmed out of play.
The first Rangers substitution arrived just before the hour mark when Daniel Slater replaced Straker, who had put in a good shift in the heart of midfield.
The game got its second goal in the 63rd minute when Barden was bundled to the ground by Wagstaff. With some question as to if the infringement had taken place in or outside the area, the situation was further confused as Mr Woods flashed the yellow card at the culprit and then showed a red card seconds later to a bemused group of players. It transpired that Wagstaff had remonstrated too forcefully with the official and Pool’s captain had been duly dismissed. Finally, Doey faced a spot kick, which was converted by Holliday.
Pressing forward with the advantage of an extra player, Rangers fashioned several good chances that culminated in a superb run down the right from McKay. Picking out Wilks, he flicked his shot over Doey only to see the ball strike the post and bounce into Grannon’s path. The tall striker steadied himself and lashed the home from eight yards out.
Launching a counter attack, follow a failed Rangers raid, it looked like Pool had caught Deighton out, but once more the wind intervened and despite a valiant attempt to bring the ball under control, it crossed out of play. A minute later, the crossbar came to Rangers’ rescue when a smart turn and shot rebounded off the frame of the goal.
A free kick for the hosts after Ashley Woods, who had replaced James Woodward, had fouled his man needed a safe pair of hands from Smith to collect under pressure.
With the game entering the final quarter of an hour, a good challenge from Waite denied Grannon, whilst Barden also came close with an attempted lob from outside the area.
A penetrating run into the area by Wilks saw the right winger release a shot that Doey did well to turn around the post. Minutes later, Will Bates, who had replaced Holliday, reacted quickest to Grannon’s flick on, but his shot was stopped by the keeper’s legs.
O’Brien was providing some quality passes and crosses from the left flank and picking out Wilks, he pulled the ball back for Barden to hit, but his shot missed the target.
Rangers were being wasteful, and several chances crashed into the children’s play area behind Doey’s goal, when, with a little more composure they may well have resulted in goals.
The scoring was completed in the 88th minute when Bates was the man in the right place to receive Grannon’s pass. Leaving himself with a little work to do, he dragged the ball past his marker and slotted it low past the motionless custodian.
The match finished with Barden spurning a glorious chance to grab a much-deserved goal when he broke free of the defence, drove the ball low past Doey, but also a foot wide of the post!
Final score: Pool AFC 0 v 4 Kirk Deighton Rangers
Report by Pete Arnett
Team: Smith, Wilks, O’Brien, Buckley, Straker (Slater 59), McKay, Dubery, Woodward (Woods 72), Barden, Grannon, Holliday (Bates 67) Unused Sub: Turley
Goals: Grannon (49, 67), Holliday (63p), Bates (88)
Yellow Cards: Rangers (Wood - foul) Pool (Wagstaff - foul)
Red Cards: Rangers (none) Pool (Wagstaff 63, dissent)
Referee: Mr Colin Woods
Kirk Deighton Rangers Man Of The Match (chosen by Dan Marshall) was Dave McKay. Dave made several key tackles during the game, especially in the first half when Rangers were under pressure. He also showed his versatility in the second period as right back making some telling runs and crosses into the Pool area.