Northern Rangers travelled to next door neighbours, Launceston for the top versus bottom of the table clash. Northern Rangers experiencing some strong success while Launceston look to be about to exit their time at the foot of the Northern Premier League.
Launceston last week won their first match since 2008 defeating Launceston City in the State Wide Cup, so their young side were up on confidence.
Rangers were close to full strength with only Stefan Jago unfit to play and were looking forward to putting themselves clear on top of the table with a win.
Launceston cannot be underrated however this year, and Whitemore had repeated his calls during training, asking the players to respect Launceston and to ensure everyone was on top of their game, or the young and skilful Launceston side would have consecutive wins under their belt at Rangers expense.
Rangers couldn’t have started much better when Mark Ambrose was put through by Chris Hunt and slotted his one on one chance to put Rangers 1-0 up inside the third minute.
Rangers continued to pepper the Launceston goal, with some 7 shots on target inside the first half an hour.
Chris Hunt, Mark Ambrose and Andrew Nicholson were all denied by some strong goal keeping.
While Rangers had some good passages of domination in the first half, the senior side could not make it count on the score board and Launceston remained in the contest, and then made Rangers pay for not being clinical in front of goals, when Agele Luate chipped in to score for the home side by lobbing Pooley in goals on the stroke of half time to level the scores.
No changes at half time and Northern Rangers needed a serious lift as the Launceston outfit were hungry for their first league points for the year.
Launceston opened the second half scoring when d’Zeffery Bart lobbed a cross/shot from the outside of his boot into the net for the lead after a long switch was played by Nathan Bartlett across the Ranger back four, Gabriel Tams waved a leg at the crossing ball but missed and the ball sat neatly for Bart to flick into the goal over the advancing Marshall Pooley.
Rangers didn’t drop their heads and pushed hard for the equaliser. Todd Hingston almost had it when he rose for a corner and slammed his header into the cross bar, the ball spilled for Nicholson to head home but his chance was cleared off the line and Launceston had survived.
Rangers were given the chance shortly after however when Chris Hunt was brought down in the box and Rangers were awarded a penalty. Todd Hingston placed the ball into the net with little fuss and Rangers could now focus on the lead.
Hunt was forced from the field with an injury after the challenge and this introduced Adam Beard and Scott Murray into the game as Gabriel Tams was substituted also with injury. Nicholson went back to right back to allow Beard into the front three while Murray sat in midfield. Both players had immediate impact on the game and Rangers begun to push forward with more presence and it was Scott Murray’s through ball to Patty Lanau-Atkinson that set up the second penalty, Lanau-Atkinson was through into the box when he was taken out by the Launceston keeper after Lanau-Atkinson had shimmied around him.
Mark Ambrose was first to pick up the ball and place it on the spot to take the kick and dispatched it perfectly into the goal for the 3-2 lead.
Rangers had their chances to extend the lead but continued to struggle in front of goal and 3-2 was the final result.
Credit to Launceston for a much improved effort and the cellar dwellers for some time look to be about to make their move off the bottom of the table shortly.