With the sun beating down on Barr Field, Kirk Deighton Rangers Veterans side took to the pitch against their Otley Town counterparts for their only pre-season game.
Fielding some new faces, it didn’t take long for Rangers to threaten and a shot by Rich Strike flew just over the crossbar.
It wasn’t long before the blue and white shirts streamed forward again and a fierce drive by Adam Tasker was beaten back into play by the Otley custodian. Reacting quickest, Tasker poked the rebound over the bar.
Otley retaliated with some smart play down the right wing, and a reverse ball allowed their winger to break free, but getting his angles correct, Rangers’ keeper Chris Rushworth pulled off a good save.
Some nice footwork in the area nearly afforded an opportunity to Ryan McHale, but he was crowded out at the vital moment by two covering defenders. Almost immediately afterwards, a curling cross by Strike was met by Tasker, but his shot was straight at the Otley keeper.
Otley were having problems breaking out of their own half and captain Dan Brearton nearly opened the scoring for Rangers when he disposed the defender, but his shot from just outside the area went narrowly over.
After a period of inactivity, Rushworth suddenly became the busier of the two keepers when he was called to deal with a shot from distance and then bravely dived at the feet of the onrushing forward, after he had held off the challenge of two Rangers defenders.
The opening goal arrived in the 26th minute, and it was a deft piece of skill from McHale as he collected a flick on from Tasker, rounded the Otley keeper and stroked the ball home.
Otley regrouped and a surging run through the middle was stopped, illegally according to the referee, however, the resultant kick was too close to Rushworth, who claimed the ball easily.
Rangers soon had the ball back in the Otley area and it was just the strength of the pass that stopped Mike Denham from having a clean shot.
The impetus shifted, and it was the visitors who were seeing plenty of the ball, but try as they might, they were having a difficult time breaching the Rangers rear-guard.
A quick counter attack nearly brought Rangers joy, but stretching at the far post, Rich Hope could only steer the ball wide.
With the half in its final stages, Rangers survived a handball scare on the edge of their area, before the offside whistle pulled the visitors back just as they thought they had broken free.
The second half started with Otley piling on the pressure, but they found Rushworth, assisted by his defence in commanding form and despite a bit of an altercation, the game was suddenly in full flow again.
The first of several offside decisions against Rangers occurred when Tasker collected a cross in the centre of the area, however as he set to shoot, the referee pulled the play back.
A good spell down the left wing saw Tasker lay the ball off into Brearton’s path and his shot flashed past the keeper, but unfortunately for Rangers, also the far post!
With the wind in their sails, Rangers started asking questions again and a long-range shot by Hope stung the palms of the Otley keeper.
The match was settled as an affair in the 46th minute (the Veterans only play 80-minute matches) when Brearton was fouled ten yards outside the area. Picking his spot, Kris Macdonald bent his shot round the wall and despite the keeper getting his hand to the ball, it had two much on it and ended up in the net.
The 50th minute nearly saw Rangers extend their lead when Denham latched onto Macdonald’s pass, but despite twisting and turning in the area, he couldn’t get his shot away and the ball was cleared.
Otley had a glorious chance when they burst down the left wing. Cutting into the area, the striker tried to shoot across Rushworth, but closing the player down well, the shot bounced off his knees to safety.
The visitors were enjoying a good spell of possession and a misplaced pass by Rushworth saw an attempt from distance blocked on route to goal, before a goalmouth scramble was eventually hacked clear.
Rangers turned up the pressure again and it allowed both Ben Lawrence and Macdonald to have efforts. However, it was McHale who really tested the keeper when he brought out a smart save with a low shot.
Substitute Danny Gore nearly added a third in the 70th minute when he latched onto Rob Stabler’s ball, but his smart turn and shot was scooped up by the Otley keeper.
Once again, the tide turned, and Rangers found themselves being pinned back into their half, but it was a familiar tale as the home shirts managed to repel any danger that came their way.
The match ended as it began with Rangers on the attack. Urged on by the home support to shoot, Lawrence chose to square to Jonathan Wilson, but as he beat his man and slipped the ball through to Brearton, the referee pulled the play back for offside.
A good run-out for the lads that pleased Player/Manager Rich Strike immensely. Each player played his part well and it should be a great season for the Veterans.
Report by Pete Arnett.
Team (all players took part): Rushworth, Brearton, McHale, Wilson, Tasker, Strike, Stabler, Dodsworth, Smith, Hope, Macdonald, Denham, Lawrence, Gore
KDRFC Man of the Match (chosen by Rich Strike): This was given to Captain Dan Brearton who powered the team forward at every opportunity.
Manager’s Post-Match Quote:
“It was promising and a good start for us. Always positive to keep a clean sheet and it’s nice to have a keeper with us now and he did very well. It’s something for us to build on and hopefully we will have more of the same against Harrogate’s Over 50’s in our first league game.”
See Ryan McHale's goal.
See Kris Macdonald's goal.