“A frustrating game” was Manager Dan Marshall’s take on the 2-1 defeat against Feathestone Colliery that kicked of Rangers 19/20 season!
In truth, it was the perfect description for a match that saw Rangers play some lovely football, but fail to click in the final third. In the end, a 2-0 lead for the visitors proved too much of a mountain to climb despite Ashley Tatler’s first goal for the club, and a deluge of chances in the final few minutes.
It was a difficult team selection with no recognised goalkeeper available and a slew of players from pre-season unavailable. Andy Maxted donned the gloves and Brad Spencer made his first start, alongside Josh Bhandal and Harvey Ribbons.
With the game punctured by heavy bursts of rain, it was a long pass from defence that tried to release Charlie Yates, but the ball zipped off the wet surface and out of play.
It was Yates’s cross from the left that picked out Bhandal, getting the ball out from beneath his feet, he hit a shot that was well saved low down by the Featherstone keeper.
The visitors attacked well down the right and a deep cross was cleared by a sliding Luke Dubery. A few minutes later and Maxted was called into action when he diverted a dipping shot from distance onto the crossbar.
A ball through the centre of Featherstone’s rear guard set their defender on a race against Ribbons, with the youngster bearing down on him, the centre-back scooped the ball clear for a throw in. From the resultant ball back into play, Yates twisted and turned and curled a shot that required a fine diving save to tip it over the bar.
Deighton were piling on the pressure and Ribbons’ long shot saw Featherstone’s custodian produce another fine save low to his left.
Momentum shifted and Maxted was soon in action when a long shot was straight at him, moments later John Large produced a goal saving block as the cross was picked up by the Featherstone striker.
Rangers were getting stuck in a pattern of smart build up play, but running down blind passages when it came to the final pass or shot and several promising moves left spectators frustrated with the end product.
Down the other end, Rangers had to produce blocks and tackles as Featherstone piled on the pressure. Large and Luke Dubery both produced multiple blocks and Spencer and Dave McKay denied the visitors with several good tackles.
It was Maxted who nearly scored when his long goal-kick bounced just inside the Featherstone area, requiring the keeper to be at full stretch to keep it out.
The first goal arrived in the 44th minute and it had been coming as Featherstone had upped the pressure. A ball down the left was well controlled and the strike from just inside the area beat Maxted to his right.
Half Time: Rangers 0 v 1 Featherstone Colliery
The second half started with Rangers looking more positive. A high pass saw Yates set off, but not for the first time, the keeper was quickly off his line to get to the ball first.
Several half chances fell to the home side with Ribbons and Yates trying to get their strikes away, but a combination of good defending and loss of concentration at vital moments meant that no shots were forthcoming.
Featherstone worked down the pitch and from a corner, Rob Holliday produced a good block before the follow up shot drifted just wide.
Disaster struck in the 50th minute when some lax passing around the Rangers area allowed Featherstone to get the ball and place a shot past Maxted.
A foul just outside the area on Bhandal saw Josh Barden’s low shot saved but spilt by the keeper, but he showed great speed to recover and pounce on the ball before Bhandal got the rebound.
A double change for Rangers saw Spencer and Dubery withdrawn for Tatler and James Woodward in the 64th minute and what an inspired decision it was as a minute later Woodward picked up on Yates’s pass and drilled the ball to the back post for Tatler to knock home for a goal on his debut.
With their tails up it was Deighton who looked dangerous and a long shot from Woodward soon after beat the keeper, but smashed onto the crossbar and flew behind the goal.
Featherstone regained their composure and forced Large into another last-ditch block, before a cross was met by a diving header at the far post, forcing Maxted to push it around the upright.
The first Rangers player to receive a trip to the Sin Bin was Yates, but he can consider himself harshly done by as there was a foul on him during a tussle on the left wing. However, the free-kick was awarded the other way and after asking why, the referee ordered him off the pitch for ten minutes.
Despite being a player down, Rangers rallied and a low cross by Holliday was bundled away from Ribbons as he looked to convert.
It took a goal-line header by Holliday, after a Featherstone corner, to keep the score as it was and moments later another drive across the goal just needed a touch to turn it home.
With Yates back on the pitch, Rangers had the ball in the net after he had released Tatler and his finish beat the keeper, however Mr Payne adjudged Tatler to be offside, although it was mightily close!
Yates nearly pulled Rangers level when his flick from Joe Wilks’s clever corner was blocked near the goal line.
Jack Holliday replaced Bhandal in the 80th minute, and he was straight in the action picking up Wilks’s pass, but his cross was collected by the keeper.
With time running out, Jack Holliday’s long shot was just held by the keeper with Yates looking to pounce, before the final action saw a one-two release the younger Holliday, but his curling shot was just wide of the far post.
Full Time: Rangers 1 v 2 Featherstone Colliery
Report by Pete Arnett
Team: Maxted, McKay, Spencer, Large, Wilks, Dubery, Holliday.R, Barden, Bhandal, Ribbons, Yates. Subs: Woodward (Dubery 64), Tatler (Spencer 64), Holliday.J (Bhandal 80), Abbott
Goal: Tatler (65)
Yellow Cards: Rangers – Yates Featherstone – 1 player
Red Cards: None for either team
Referee: Mr Jason Payne
Kirk Deighton Rangers B&F Electrical Wholesalers Man Of The Match: John Large