With just a solitary point needed by Rangers to clinch promotion, a route one goal by Boroughbridge with five minutes to go saw them snatch a late victory that installs them at the top of the league and means that our final match against Salts FC Reserves on the 27th April takes on even greater importance!
Neither team really got hold of the ball from the off and for large periods the play seemed to be destined to take place in the sky! Rob Holliday was the first to try when he attempted to burst through the visitor’s backline, but pink shirts eventually blocked the way.
A long kick by Jonty Smith caused panic in the away penalty area, but his counterpart managed to get a fist to the ball, despite attention from Brad Spencer and Chris Plews.
The game had reached the 10th minute when Boroughbridge mounted their first real attack. A surging run down the right flank saw a cross drilled in low, but with no-one ahead of the ball, Smith had the easy task of scooping it up.
Meaningful attacks were a rarity in a game that was spending more time being played in the air and, for a while, head tennis appeared to be the main sport between the teams and neither side was winning at that either!
A spate of football on the floor saw Holliday’s shot from distance spin wide before Craig Hall latched onto Spencer’s pass but scuffed his shot at the vital moment. Plews worked himself into a good position, but produced a looping shot when it needed power and Boroughbridge’s keeper plucked the ball from the air.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Boroughbridge took the lead against the run of play. A deep free-kick wasn’t dealt with at all by the Rangers defence and a well struck shot across Smith from the corner of the six-yard box found the back of the net.
Rangers nearly fashioned an equaliser on 31 minutes when Holliday showed quick feet to get into a shooting position, but not for the first (or the last) time, heads were in hands as his shot beat the keeper but rolled a foot wide of the far post.
A trio of corners led to several half-chances, but the two centre-backs were marshalling Rangers well and space was limited for Deighton to get a clear shot away.
It was nearly 2-0 to Boroughbridge when a shot forced Smith into diving to his left to produce a reflex save. Dan Flynn completed the clearance at the far post, but it was a warning to Rangers!
With Holliday looking the most dangerous player on the park, it was his low shot that was diverted by the keeper’s legs, before Mike Tasker headed the resultant corner just over.
With half-time looming, a quick throw in led to a half chance, but Mr De-Souza adjudged Tasker’s challenge on the keeper to be illegal and despite Danny Gore’s shot looking like it had crossed the line before being cleared, play was brought back in Boroughbridge’s favour.
Half-Time: Kirk Deighton Rangers Reserves 0 v 1 Boroughbridge AFC Reserves
Kicking towards the club house, Holliday took up the play and striding down the right, he interchanged passes with Spencer before whipping a cross that deceived everyone.
A foot race between Boroughbridge’s number 6 and Daley Johnson saw the Rangers player keep pace with his counterpart and despite getting a hooked shot away, it fell easily into Smith’s arms.
The 54th minute saw the first substitution of the match as Gore, who had picked up a knock in the first half made way for Jake Little.
A disallowed goal for Boroughbridge from a corner saw a quick break for Rangers as Hall powered down the right. Curling a shot from just inside the area, Little tried to apply a touch to Hall’s effort, but missed which in turn deceived both the defender and keeper and they could only watch as the ball rolled across the line for the most bizarre of equalisers on 57 minutes!
The goal seemed to wake something within Rangers and the play was suddenly sharper, passing was a lot better, and space was being found, however the final ball was the consistent stumbling block, despite the best attempts of Holliday and Spencer, who was having another good game. One such move saw a wonderful through ball by Holliday being driven first time across the area by Spencer, but the long legs of the Boroughbridge centre back just poked the cross clear of the lurking Plews.
If there was one player in the Deighton side who was finding pockets of space, it was Plews and he was only millimetres from heading the ball into an empty net when Boroughbridge’s defence and keeper was caught out by Hall’s cross, however it wasn’t to be and he let out a frustrated cry that was echoed by his teammates.
Plews wasn’t having any luck at all in front of goal and this was summed up after another good ball released Spencer on the right and his cross picked out Plews, but he was unable to flick the ball goalwards and it flew wide.
John-Paul Williams was introduced for Plews in the 81st minute as Rangers looked to consolidate the point that they needed for promotion, but it was the visitors who pulled a smash and grab in the 85th minute when a long goal kick was lifted over the onrushing Smith by the advancing Boroughbridge striker and it bounced into the empty night.
With Rangers having to commit players forward to try and get the equaliser, it needed a superb block by Johnson to stop Boroughbridge from claiming a third.
The last action of the game saw Smith play a free-kick into the area, but challenging for a ball in the air with both Williams and Tasker, that he was never going to win, the keeper drew a foul and smashed the resultant free-kick down the pitch.
Report by Pete Arnett
Team: Smith, Hall, Flynn, Large, Tasker, Jenner, Johnson, Spencer, Plews (Williams, 81), Holliday, Gore (Little, 54) Unused: Park, Wooler, Macdonald
Goals: Hall (57)
Yellow Cards: Kirk Deighton Rangers – None. Boroughbridge AFC – 1 booking (dissent)
Red Cards: None for either team.
Referee: Mr Darren De Souza
Kirk Deighton Rangers Man of the Match (chosen by Kris Macdonald) was, for the second game running, Brad Spencer. Brad was superb going forward and his runs were a constant thorn in Boroughbridge’s side. His link up play with Rob Holliday was brilliant and led to several chances being created.