A second half full of goals rescued Rangers as, despite having the lion’s share of possession during the first 45 minutes, the blue shirts couldn’t convert their chances and for a moment, it looked like a bad day at the office was on the cards.
As it turned out, goals from Josh Barden, Rob Holliday and a brace from Will Bates, making his home debut, saw Rangers take all the points and complete the double over Leeds Modernians.
The game started in Rangers favour and within minutes of the first whistle, Danny Grannon tried to pick out Barden, but his cross nicked off a defender and went out for a corner. From the resultant kick, the headed clearance fell back to Barden, but his shot flew over the bar.
Next up to test the Modernians keeper was Grannon, but his glancing header from a corner was well saved and held by the glovesman.
Forcing their way down the left flank, Modernians forced Jonty Smith into his first save of the game when he had to sprint from his area to clear a dangerous pass.
Holliday was in the thick of the action and his pass through the centre of the pitch released Barden who, in turn, swung in a cross that Grannon jumped for. However, the referee decided that the big striker had unfairly held his man down and awarded a free-kick to Leeds.
A weaving run by the Modernians number nine was halted by a superb sliding tackle by James Woodward and as quick as a flash, through Dave McKay, the ball was up the other end, but Joe Straker’s shot was blocked as Leeds packed the area.
Straker was upended just outside the area and a curling shot by Joe Wilks forced the Leeds keeper to produce a good diving save to his right to push the ball round the post. As the corner came over, a shill blast from the referee brought frustration to Deighton as Luke Dubery was penalised for travelling on his man.
Rangers nearly took the lead in the 24th minute when Holliday peeled round the back and leapt to volley Grannon’s deep cross goalwards. Unfortunately, his shot went just wide of the near post and into the bushes behind the goal.
Following a handball appeal in the visitor’s area being turned down by Mr Blackham, it became Modernians who started to control the game and a fierce low shot needed Smith to get down to his near post. Minutes later it needed Dubery to slid in to disposes a Leeds player as he threatened to open up Deighton’s defence.
Another shot from distance forced Smith into action as he plucked a looping ball out of harms reach before all of Rangers breathed a sigh of relief as a half-volley shot curled just wide of the far post by the narrowest of margins.
Taking back the initiative, Barden ran at the Mods backline, before his cross picked out Duberry. Flashing his right foot at the ball, his shot flew past the frame of the goal. Minutes later and Grannon’s long shot after a poor clearance also flashed past the post.
Half Time: Rangers 0 v 0 Leeds Modernians
Rangers won the ball straight away from the second half kick-off and played Grannon down the right flank. Pulling the trigger, the former Colony Bay player watched as his shot was scooped up by the goalkeeper.
The next major attack saw Rangers take the lead in the 52nd minute and it was a stunning header by Barden, following an inch perfect cross by Holliday, that left the keeper standing as it nestled in the back of the net.
The old saying of you are never as vulnerable as when you have just scored was tailor made for Rangers as they survived a penalty scare when Smith had to challenge the on-rushing Modernians player, fortunately the custodian timed it perfectly and won the ball, however as the striker crashed to the ground the shouts for a foul reverberated round Barr Field, but Mr Blackham, who was perfectly placed, waved them away. However, in the 56th minute it was all level when the initial shot was blocked but the ball landed at the feet of the Leeds player and his shot, through a crowd of players, could only be helped into the net by Smith.
Overcoming the setback, Rangers went back on the offensive and long shots from Dan Slater and Grannon were straight at the keeper before the limping Woodward was replaced by Roman Neal in the 61st minute.
The move almost paid instant dividends as Neal picked up Straker’s pass and returned the favour, but the cross was blocked for a corner which was only half cleared to Slater, but his shot ballooned into the sky.
New signing Will Bates joined the fray for Grannon in the 65th minute as Rangers came forward continuously but couldn’t find that final piece of magic.
A rare, but on target attack by the visitors needed Smith to produce yet another diving save to his left to smoother the ball at his near post.
The second goal finally arrived in the 75th minute when Barden latched onto Neal’s pass and picked out Bates in the area. Despite his first shot being blocked, Bates reacted quickest and powered the rebound into the back of the net from eight yards out.
Rangers were on top again and Neal was providing some quality crosses from the right flank, one such delivery picked out Holliday unmarked at the back post, but he scooped the ball over the bar. However, this wasn’t the case in the 78th minute when Bates picked out Wilks and his flicked header found Holliday in the same position and this time, he steered the ball into the goal. This would be Holliday’s final contribution to the game and Ash Woods took to the pitch to replace him.
The icing was spread on the cake in the 85th minute when a pass found the marauding Wilks, and he pulled the ball back into Bates’s path and the striker made no mistake burying his shot past the sprawling keeper.
The attacking play wasn’t over and as the referee started to put the whistle to his lips to blow for full-time, it was Bates who forced a miscued clearance that was picked up by Neal. Steadying himself, he hit a long shot that was only a couple of feet wide of the post.
Report by Pete Arnett
Rangers: Smith, Wilks, Buckley.C, Dubery, McKay, Woodward (Neal 61), Straker.J, Slater, Holliday (Wood 78), Barden, Grannon (Bates 65) Subs not used: None
Goals: Barden (52), Bates (75, 85), Holliday (78)
Red Cards: None
Referee: Mr Blackman
KDRFC Man of the Match (Chosen by Dan Marshall) A superb all action display including a great headed goal to get us moving saw Josh Barden handed this accolade.