Leabrooks Under 13s 2
Ripley Rangers Under 13s 6
A superb footballing display from Ripley Rangers, in difficult windy conditions, allowed them to extend their lead at the top of the division, against Leabrooks, who would have gone level on points if they’d won themselves.
On a day when a lot of other games were cancelled due to the rain, the Swanwick Hall pitch was in good condition, albeit very windswept.
Rangers kicked off the game with the wind behind them. They seemed determined to get to the ball first and win the tackles in the early exchanges and they were soon ahead. A good move down the right ended with a good ball over from Luke Jaques, which caused panic in the Leabrooks penalty area, with Luke Gee putting pressure on a defender who sliced the ball into his own net.
Rangers carved out more chances and really should have extended their lead as they were making the most of the wind being behind them, Keilan Harrison and Kyle Gregory both bringing good saves from the Leabrooks keeper.
The scoreline was soon 1-1 though when a quick break down the left ended with a Leabrooks striker going past two defenders and slotting the ball under the advancing Sam Linford.
Rangers’ heads didn’t drop and they were playing some good football, trying to keep the ball down and using the wings. It was Gregory who was causing most of the problems down the left and he swung an inch-perfect cross over for Keilan Harrison, who smacked the ball home from close range.
More chances came and went for Rangers with the Leabrooks keeper making some fine saves and Max Didcock hitting the post from 20 yards out, but the game was square again at 2-2 when Rangers gave the ball away in midfield and the ball broke to on the edge of the box where a Leabrooks striker was on hand to smash the ball across Linford into the far bottom corner.
The wind seemed to be giving Rangers the advantage with most of the game played in the Leabrooks half but although the chances kept coming, the scoreline remained 2-2 as the game approached half-
Finally, Rangers re-took the lead when more good football between Danny Bain and Sam Clifton ended with Clifton sending a great cross over from the right, which caused more chaos in the box and Max Didcock was on hand to fire Rangers back into the lead.
Rangers were in full control and incredibly, a couple of minutes later, the best goal of the game gave Rangers a 4-2 half-time lead. Gregory won the ball on the left and played in Bain, who took one touch and spread the ball to the right where Clifton skipped past two players and sent an inch perfect ball into the box where Luke Gee gave the keeper no chance from point blank range, guiding the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
The half-time team talk was all about continuing to get the ball down and pass and move. It was felt Leabrooks would relish the wind being behind them as it seemed to give Rangers the advantage in the first half and the lads felt the second half would be a battle.
As it happene,d it wasn’t the wind that had given Rangers the advantage, it was their brilliant football and they took this into the second half and continued to dominate. George O’Neill, Ben Rose, Josh Lomas and Chester Norman were all awesome at the back and were in full control, dealing with the ball over the top brilliantly well.
It seemed that the next goal was going to be crucial and it went to Rangers when Sam Clifton exchanged good passes with Bain and Didcock and then played the ball through to Gregory, who flew past two defenders and drilled a great cross over to Harrison, who coolly took his time to control the ball and place a fine shot wide of the keeper into the far bottom corner.
Rangers kept pressing and the football was brilliant to watch. They were coping with the conditions extremely well but it should not be underestimated how hard the whole team were working and how much they wanted to win. They even had two disallowed goals go against them as wave after wave of attacks continued.
The final goal of the game came with more good play by Gregory and a neat exchange between him and Norman gave him the room to knock another great ball over into the box, where the tireless Gee was on hand to grab a well-deserved second, hammering the ball past the advancing keeper.
The score was 6-2 and yet it could have been more and, in a game played on a day with difficult conditions, against a quality team, Rangers had shown once again what a great footballing side they are and fully deserved the three points.
The wind seemed to give Rangers the advantage in the first half and yet they possibly played even better in the second half, dominating a game that sent them four points clear at the top. It was a lesson to all, get the ball down and play and it shouldn’t matter what the conditions.
MOTM was Sam Clifton for some great play on a day when there were many many man of the match performances from all over the Rangers squad.
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