A quartet of late goals added a gloss to a scoreline that was, in all truthfulness, harsh on the home side that for the best part of an hour had frustrated Rangers with a solid defensive display that had made a mockery of their league position.
Rangers started the game on the front foot and Sam Straker made some early running down the left wing, but his cross was cleared by Pool.
Straker was soon on the sprint again as he tried to reach Chris Plews‘s through ball, but as he struggled to bring the pass under control, a sliding tackle from Pool took the chance away from him. Picking up the play, Plews tried to bend the ball into the top corner but shot over.
Managing a foray in Deighton’s half, Pool forced Jonty Smith, deputising for the injured Lewis Mallinson, to deal with a weak backpass, before winning a corner that was easily dealt with.
Following a brief stoppage for an injury to Daley Johnson, Rangers were back on the attack when Straker took it down the left and dinked a cross to the back post where a scramble led to Pool stabbing the ball behind.
Rangers were utilising the left wing well as Straker had the measure of the right back more often than not, but the final ball was the issue and the two centre-backs proved to be equal to what came at them.
Two half chances flashed through Pool’s area as curling corners from both sides caused trouble, but the first one travelled through without anyone touching it and the second one saw Mike Tasker head over.
Pool weren’t able to get hold of the ball much in Rangers half, but they fashioned the best chances of the first half when a shot from the edge of the area was straight at Smith.
With early signs of frustration starting to show, John-Paul Williams blasted over from just inside the box, before a teasing cross just evaded Vito D’Avanzo’s lunge from close range.
Smith was called into action again as he pulled off a stunning save to his right to push away a dipping shot from distance as Pool caught Rangers cold.
Rangers seemed to be able to create but were also guilty of snatching at chances and despite working his way into a superb position at the back post, Plews met a deep cross with a thunderous half volley that ended up behind the goal.
With time ticking away, Rangers forced another corner that Tasker met with another header, but, not for the first time, it sailed over the bar with the Pool keeper watching on.
Half-Time: Pool AFC 0 v 0 Kirk Deighton Rangers Reserves
Rangers kicked on at the start of the second half and were quickly back on the attack as Straker, who was in the thick of it, picked up on Johnson’s flick, but his cross took a deflection off the defender and carried to the keeper who collected.
Rangers were left ruing the intervention of the goal frame as another pull back by Straker found D’Avanzo whose scuffed shot fell to Williams. Forced to turn outwards, Williams did well to get his shot off, but watched as it rattled against the near post before Plews brought out a good diving save from the custodian.
Rangers survived a scare in the 51st minute when a poor clearance allowed Pool to burst through, but suffering from the same problem as Rangers, their hurried shot flew wide of Smith’s goal.
A minute later, Rangers threw on their first substitute as Williams made way for Rob Holliday. It was evident that Holliday’s remit was to drive at Pool’s backline and he came close to giving Rangers the lead when he lunged to try and connect to Tasker’s flick on, unfortunately the speed of the ball proved to be too great.
The first goal arrived in the 59th minute and it was down to the tenacity of D’Avanzo who closed down the defender and won the ball. Slipping it into Holliday’s path, the winger steadied himself and rolled the ball past the keeper and in off the post.
A quick throw out by Smith was flicked on by Plews straight into Straker’s path, however the Pool keeper showed great bravery as he dived at his feet to wrap himself round the ball as Straker shaped to shoot.
The second sub in the 65th minute saw a family connection as Brad Spencer replaced Plews and the son was soon in action as he latched onto Craig Hall’s long throw, but as he drove his pass across the goal, the keeper smothered the cross.
Pool thought that they had scored the equaliser in the 69th minute, but Smith again pulled off a full-length save to turn the fierce drive away. Straight away the ball was back down into Pool’s area, but Spencer scuffed his shot and Straker was unable to turn it home.
Deighton finally doubled their lead in the 73rd minute when a free-kick by Spencer was headed down goalwards by John Large, as the ball bounced up, it flicked off a Pool player and into the net.
Rangers were now looking a much more dangerous beast as their wing play and direct running was causing Pool problems and it was three after 78 minutes when an inch perfect cross by Spencer picked out the unmarked Straker and he volleyed home from just outside the six-yard box.
With Pool now looking tired, Rangers were relentless, and another Spencer cross was knocked back into the middle by Straker, but Danny Gore (who had come on for D’Avanzo) was unable to hit the target.
Rangers scored the best goal of the game in the 82nd minute and it was fitting that it was Spencer who finally got on the scoresheet. A headed clearance from his original corner found Spencer near the touchline and curling in a wicked ball to the backpost, it flashed into the net untouched!
The scoring wasn’t over, and Rangers added the fifth in the 85th minute when Holliday ran at the centre back before feeding the ball into Hall’s path. Steadying himself, the right back fired in a low shot that flashed past the keeper and into the bottom corner of the net.
Report by Pete Arnett
Team: Smith, Flynn, Hall, Tasker, Large, Johnson, Park, Straker, Williams (Holliday, 52), D’Avanzo (Gore, 74), Plews (Spencer, 65) Unused: Macdonald, Little
Goals: Holliday (59), Large (73), Straker (78), Spencer (82), Hall (85)
Yellow Cards: Rangers – None, Pool AFC – None
Red Cards: Rangers – None, Pool AFC – None
Referee: Mr John Murray
Kirk Deighton Rangers AFC Man of the Match (chosen by Manager Kris Macdonald): It could have gone to a few players this one, Sam Straker and Rob Holliday were in contention, but for a superb display of crossing that caused Pool no end of problems and a superb goal, Brad Spencer was awarded this one – not bad for a 20 minute display!