A disastrous start to each half saw Rangers concede a total of three goals to leave them winless in four games, and missing that early Christmas cheer that three points leading onto the festive break brings! However, as mentioned by Manager Dan Marshall post-match, the visitors were good value for their win and, by far the best team we have seen at Barr Field this season.
It took three minutes for the first shot to hit the net when play, that had started on the right wing, was swung over into the middle of the area, and the unmarked player had the simple task of shooting straight into an empty goal with Jonty Smith stranded at his near post.
Rangers nearly equalised when Charlie Yates floated a pass into the area that the keeper looked odds on to pluck out of the air, even under pressure exerted by Danny Grannon. However, the custodian misjudged his catch, but managed a sigh of relief when the fumble bounced a foot the wrong side of the post for us!
A brace of corners paid dividends for Rangers in the 7th minute when parrying the first one out of play, United’s keeper missed the second one completely and Grannon rose highest to head home Yates’s set piece from two yards out.
A clearance from Luke Dubery, that contained more height than length, saw the ball loop back over the central defender and allow the Hall Green player the opportunity to run onto it. Despite breaking free of the last man, the striker was beaten to the finish by Smith who had raced off his line to clear the danger.
With the elements taking a turn for the worse, the play mirrored the weather and the game became chaotic with both teams finding control of the ball extremely difficult. Gaining a slight foothold, Hall Green poured down the right-hand side and crossed towards the near post, however Jon Richards was first to the ball and his powerful header cleared.
A free kick, awarded after Yates had been brought down just outside the area, gave Josh Barden the chance to test the keeper, but despite getting the curl right, his shot was too powerful, and it sailed over the bar into the bushes behind.
The visitors were finding space down the right, but Rangers were closing the door when they entered the final third and Richards, Jack Abbott and Dan Slater all pulled out superb blocks to make sure that parity in the scores was kept.
With the rain causing the pitch to become greasy, free-kicks were often being awarded by Mr Murray, and again Rangers nearly benefited when Barden battled hard to win the ball by the goal line. Pulling his pass back to Grannon, the tall Liverpudlian smashed his shot past the keeper, but also the far post!
With the visitors upping the pressure, it took a superb tackle from Richards to push the ball away from the United player. Regaining his footing again, the visitor’s smashed the ball goal wards, only for Smith to dive to his right and parry the ball. Having to hit it quickly as Richards and James Woodward closed him down, the striker, at the third attempt, sent the ball into orbit from around ten yards out.
A change of possession saw Rangers push and a smart shot from Dubery, and then Joe Turley, saw the United keeper stretching to cleanly collect each time. Minutes later and a powerful effort from distance by Yates just cleared the crossbar after good work from Woodward in midfield.
With the half dwindling in time, both teams were presented with a chance to score, but a volley from the visitors flew over the crossbar, whilst Turley’s second long range shot of the half saw the keeper dive to his right to collect low down.
A surging run by Hall Green United opened the second half, and despite the danger being cleared by both Richards and Straker, the ball fell to an orange shirted player on the edge of the area and his dipping shot arrowed over Smith and into the back of the net.
Rangers mounted their own attack and good passing from Woodward and Grannon saw the latter try and chip the ball into Straker’s path, but the speed of the ball on the very wet surface gave the midfielder a challenge to try and reach it, which he was unable to do.
The game was realistically over as a contest in the 51st minute, when a poor clearance was pounced upon and a good shimmy into the area allowed the Hall Green player to lift the ball over the onrushing Smith and into the net.
The visitors were controlling the game and producing some outstanding attacking play, but a combination of misplaced final passes or good defending reduced them to shots from distance or the ball being turned over at the last second.
Rangers weren’t looking comfortable at all with the conditions, but they kept trying to play football and Straker, Turley and Yates were all producing some powerful runs into the final third.
The first change for Rangers took place in the 60th minute when Conor Buckley replaced Dubery and moved to the left side of defence.
The home side certainly were trying and following a good tackle by Woodward, Barden drove into the United half. Trying to thread the ball through to Grannon, his pass bounced off the heels of the covering defender and was cleared, summing up the kind of luck Rangers have been privy to recently.
The final goal for Hall Green United arrived in the 69th minute when the player travelling with the ball was afforded too much space and managed to get into a shooting position on the right of the area unchallenged before drilling the ball home. With this, Marshall made his second change as Rob Holliday replaced Barden.
Both teams tried to produce slick play, but with the driving rain hampering progress, it often ended with the ball out of play or a foul given for mistimed challenges. The visitors constantly looked dangerous on the attack, but fortunately for us they weren’t able to capitalise on this and add to their score.
With ninety minutes played, Mr Murray ended the game to spark one of the fastest exoduses from a football pitch every witnessed!
A good game of attacking football from one of the best teams we have played at Barr Field. Hopefully, a recharging of batteries over Christmas will see a more dynamic performance away against Aberford Albion on the 29th December.
Report by Pete Arnett
Team: Smith, Abbott, Straker.J, Richards, Dubery, Woodward, Turley, Slater, Barden, Grannon, Yates
Subs (Used): Buckley.C (Dubery 60), Holliday (Barden 69) Unused: Straker.S
Yellow Cards: Rangers – None, Hall Green United: 1 player (dissent)
Red Cards: None
Referee: Mr John Murray
KDRFC Man Of The Match (chosen by Manager Dan Marshall): A superb battling performance in the heart of midfield saw James Woodward awarded this one. His never-say-die attitude broke up plenty of attacks and set our forward play going.
Post-Match Quote from Manager Dan Marshall:
“It’s been a long afternoon, but I think that Hall Green were good for the win. I thought that in the first half, they had the better of the play, but we had the better chances, we just couldn’t convert them. One-all at half time was probably a fair result and we talked at the interval of how we could exploit their weaknesses, but it didn’t happen as we didn’t come out for the second half and the game was effectively over by the hour mark. All in all, I have no complaints as they are probably the best team that we have played here this season.”
Danny Grannon Goal v Hall Green United.