“It stopped the rot of losing, so maybe we are starting to change direction!” was the opinion of Player/Manager Kris Macdonald, as his Rangers Reserves side picked up their first point in three games.
However, even the Gaffer was forced to admit that it was a case of one point gained, but two points dropped as, despite Danny Gore’s penalty, Rangers couldn’t put the ten men of the visitors to the sword, and a first half equaliser meant that both teams came away with a point.
The opening ten minutes belonged to Kippax, and a powerfully struck free-kick needed a fine save low to his right from Lewis Mallinson to push the ball clear.
Gaining possession through pressing play, the visitors came forward repeatedly, but found their progress blocked by a mixture of solid defending, offsides or hurried shots that flew wide or above Mallinson’s goal.
Rangers finally woke up and a powerful run by Phil Turner was ended when his cross was diverted for a corner. Moments later, Gore turned and shot from ten yards out, but his effort was straight at the keeper.
Mallinson was called in action again in the 14th minute, when he produced a full-length dive to push wide a stinging shot from distance after Kippax had sprung a lightning counter attack.
Despite the visitors hogging possession, it was Rangers who nearly took the lead when John-Paul Williams turned onto a loose ball in the area and was able to hit a half volley. This time it was the Kippax custodian’s turn to rescue his team, when he parried the shot round the post.
With Deighton getting a foot hold in the game, it became an end to end affair, with Rich Jenner, Ross Park and Turner all linking well for Rangers, and Kippax responding by firing two good crosses through the box looking for that final touch.
The game produced a major moment of drama in the 23rd minute when, after a succession of corners, a goal bound deflection was stopped on the line by a Kippax hand and Ms Cottam pointed to the spot. Following a red card to the guilty player, the visitor’s misery was multiplied when Gore sent the keeper the wrong way to open the scoring.
Being a player down visibly galvanised the visitors and working hard as a unit, the game became sucked into the middle of the pitch, with little forward momentum from both teams.
Rangers front man Jake Little produced a lovely shimmy to break free of the final defender and put himself in a one-on-one with the keeper. As he raced into the area, he placed his shot to close to the custodian, whose touch nudged the ball out for a corner.
It was all square in the 36th minute when a quick break down the left culminated in the ball being pulled back into the path to the arriving green shirt, and he made no mistake with a well-placed shot that evaded Mallinson's dive.
The second half started with Daley Johnson beating his man down the right wing. Crossing towards the near post, the Kippax custodian clutched the ball to his chest before Gore could get to it.
Rangers edged their way into the final third of the pitch again, but William’s shot from distance was tame and presented no problems to the away side as they cleared to safety.
Another moment of controversy reared its head in the 57th minute when Turner, who had sprinted clear of the Kippax back-line was felled by the keeper, who had raced out of his area to make a last-ditch tackle. With the Rangers players and bench all claiming that the custodian was the last man, the referee deemed that he had got just enough of the ball to avoid a caution and that a free-kick was a suitable punishment.
With the first of three substitutions taking place, Daniel Flynn replaced the hard-working Alex Wooler. Soon after, both Gore and Little were also swapped with Bradley Spencer and Vito D’Avanzo
Rangers luck continued to be absent when it came to scoring and Williams was left once again shouting in frustration as his first time shot rolled the wrong side of the post, with the keeper terribly out of position.
With Spencer and D’Avanzo adding a new dimension to the Rangers frontline, the little deflections that Kippax were managing to get on crosses and shots were becoming more important to the away team as twice in quick succession, Spencer and Turner whipped in dangerous balls, only to see a ricochet take it away from the onrushing forwards.
Kippax reminded Rangers that they were still in the game when a player was allowed to turn infield and run across the Deighton area. Firing off a shot, it fortunately flew straight in Mallinson’s hands and the keeper wasted little time in getting play moving again.
Turner and Spencer both showed their pace and skill as they beat their respective opposition full backs, but with no one taking a gamble in the box, the crosses were easily claimed by grateful Kippax players, although a bit of fortune shone on the visitors as a rogue touch by a defender was just within catching distance of the surprised custodian!
Following a couple of half chances for D’Avanzo which saw the keeper come out on top, Spencer fired the ball into the net after breaking free, only to see his effort ruled out for offside.
Another superb run by Turner saw the speedy winger fouled on the edge of the area. The resultant free-kick was met by the head of John Large at the back post, resulting in a corner which culminated in D’Avanzo’s shot being only half saved and Michael McCartney, who had stayed up the pitch, picking the keeper’s pocket, but watching as his shot was blocked on route to goal as well!
With Large now acting as another striker, he was inches away from turning Spencer’s cross home right on full time, but a forward dive from the keeper saw him push the ball away, and not for the first time it fell to a green shirt to unceremoniously clear up the pitch.
Report by Pete Arnett
Team: Mallinson, Park, Large, McCartney, Wooler, Turner, Johnson, Jenner, Williams, Gore, Little
Subs: Flynn (for Wooler 61), Spencer (for Gore 66), D’Avanzo (for Little 66)
Unused Subs: Wright, Thelwell
Yellow Cards: Rangers - Flynn (foul); Kippax - 2 players
Red Cards: Rangers - none; Kippax - 1 player (deliberate handball)
Referee: Ms Hannah Cottam.
Rangers Man of the Match chosen by Kris Macdonald. With Rangers becoming more and more threatening as the game progressed, one player produced some real quality trying to conjure up a winner for Deighton. He was often on the end of some real robust challenges but didn’t stop giving Kippax’s right back nightmares with his pace. This accolade was given to Phil Turner.