A brace of Howden Clough penalties threatened to undo all the good work that a sluggish Rangers side had put into building up a 3-0 lead, but time was on our side and as the second spot kick nestled in the net, Mr Moss blew the final whistle and a sigh of relief could be heard by all connected with the team in blue shirts!
Attacking under dark sky, Rangers forced an early corner that was swung in by Joe Wilks, jumping to meet it, both Dave McKay and Dan Slater were just inches away from connecting, with the keeper opting to stay on his line.
Howden showed their movement on the ball and won a free kick on the right-hand side of Deighton’s area. Drilling the shot low, Rangers defence closed rank and cleared under pressure.
An offside whistle robbed Conor Buckley of a run on goal after Charlie Yates and Josh Barden had combined on the left wing to play him in. Straight away, Howden countered, and a lovely move saw the winger cut off the right wing and flash a shot wide of Jonty Smith’s far post.
It needed a good save from Smith in the 7th minute to keep Clough out after another shot from outside the area forced the custodian into a full-length dive to his left to palm the ball away.
A delightful curling pass by Joe Turley picked out Wilks at the far post, but he could only steer his header wide and the look of frustration from our winger was plain for everyone to see.
Turley was the man in the right place in the 12th minute as he robbed the full back of the ball, strode into the area, picked his spot and thumped his shot home to open the scoring.
Rangers were forced into a spell of defending as the visitor’s pressed hard, but they found McKay and his fellow defender Luke Dubery and full backs Buckley and Andy Maxted in commanding form and they repelled what was thrown at them.
Pushing back up the pitch, Rangers nearly doubled their lead when Maxted intercepted a pass and picked out Yates. A quick move with Wilks found Slater and the midfielder’s shot just went wide.
Howden were making a mockery of their lowly league status as they constantly in Rangers face and forcing the game. Stretching the play across the pitch, the visitors moved the ball quickly and only lax finishing prevented them from leveling several times.
Rangers were also having problems getting a clean shot off and some deft link up between Turley and Yates saw the former shoot over under pressure from the Howden centre-back.
The visitors missed a golden chance to equalise in the 39th minutes, when a sublime piece of footwork saw the midfielder beat four Rangers players before swinging in a deep cross that was volleyed high into the allotments behind Smith’s goal.
The first half finished with Dubery and Smith combining to block a fierce drive by Howden’s striker after he controlled a cross well and found himself with space to shoot.
Following the half-time talk, Rangers came out and forced two half chances with Yates just mis-controlling at the vital moment, before another flowing move was ended as the Howden defender managed to get a foot in to poke the ball back to his keeper.
A cross from the right was pushed out by Smith and as the ball was passed to the free Howden player on the left of the area, a lunge by Maxted produced a great block to prevent a certain equaliser.
A pass on the edge of the area by Yates saw Wilks stride into the box and stumbling over a challenge, the rest of the Rangers team called for a penalty, but regaining his footing, Wilks powered the ball into the six-yard box where it rebounded off a Howden defender and spun goalwards. Diving low, the defender managed to recover well and scooped the ball away from the goal line.
Moments later, Buckley received a pass outside the area and showed some good footwork to line up a shot that flew wide.
Some calm defending by Dubery saw the centre back step inside his man and steer the ball away from him as he was threatening to break through the middle. Minutes later and it was Buckley having to produce a well-timed tackle to knock the ball away from the Howden winger.
A superb shot by James Woodward nearly increased Rangers lead. Picking up Buckley’s cross, he spun and hit the ball well from a narrow angle and it needed a fingertip diving save to push it onto the post and wide.
Rangers were two up in the 60th minute, and it was Yates who provided a calm finish after picking up on a mistake by the Howden defender to finish low to the keeper’s left from the edge of the area.
The game was flowing back and forth and another deep cross needed Maxted to rise highest and cushion his header back into the arms of Smith.
The first change of the match saw Kieron O’Brien replace Buckley and straight away the former Ossett man was in action as he swung in a deep cross that Howden just managed to clear with Barden lurking.
A foul on Yates as he tried to break free brought Rangers their third goal in the 71st minute when Dubery rose highest to head Wilks’s freekick past the keeper from seven yards out.
The game restarted with Rangers replacing Wilks and Woodward with the duo of Adam Carter and Jack Cheetham. With the pair hardly being on the pitch, Cheetham picked up on a mis-kicked goalkick and nearly released Barden, only for his pass to hit a covering defender.
Taking their foot of the gas, Rangers allowed Howden to press higher up the pitch and they came close to pulling one back with a shot that just went straight to Smith.
Howden were awarded their first penalty in the 86th minute when Dubery was adjudged to have bundled the striker over after he had chipped the ball over McKay. Stepping up, the spot kick taker placed the ball into the top right of the goal with Smith diving the other way.
Rangers were stunned in the 89th minute when Mr Moss pointed to the spot again after Smith had raced out of his goal to dive at the feet of the striker. With the Deighton players protesting that Smith had got to the ball first, Mr Moss was having none of it and this time the ball went low to the right with Smith again going the opposite way. This time however, as the Howden player raced to retrieve the ball, the final whistle went and there was no time to complete the comeback!
Report by Pete Arnett
Team: Smith, Maxted, Buckley.C, McKay, Dubery, Woodward, Turley, Slater, Wilks, Barden, Yates
Subs: O’Brien (for Buckley 65), Carter (for Wilks 72), Cheetham (for Woodward 72) Not Used: Neal
Yellow Cards: Rangers (Dubery – foul), Howden Clough (1 player)
Red Cards: None
Referee: Mr Joe Moss
KDRFC Man of the Match (Chosen by the management) was David McKay. The Centre-Back hardly put a foot wrong all match, was strong in the tackle and never backed out of any challenge.
Post-Match Reaction from First Team Coach Ben Lawrence:
“We knew that Howden would be organised, especially with Dave Cope taking over as Manager. They were in our faces and made it difficult for us to play. We seemed shell shocked for a while and I would say that it took about fifty minutes for us to get into our stride, but when we did we capitalised on two mistakes and scored. At three nil we thought that we could go on and score more but we let complacency kick in and gave away a penalty and suddenly it was panic stations. We gave away another penalty which fortunately in the end hasn’t cost us the points. We looked at this as a game we had to win, and it wasn’t a pretty display, but we got the points and that is what counts.”
Joe Turley Goal v Howden Clough
Charlie Yates Goal v Howden Clough
Luke Dubery Goal v Howden Clough
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