|Stefan Jago returned for Northern Rangers this week.|
Northern Rangers impressive record at the NTCA continued this weekend with a dominate display against a disappointing Riverside outfit. The clubs consecutive run of clean sheets at the NTCA now spans across more than 480 minutes of football and stands at 15 – 0. Perhaps more impressive is the home record against Riverside of late, since 2007 Rangers have won 6-1, 4-2, 5-2 and now 5-0 at the NTCA.
But this game didn’t carry the hallmarks of a master class display in the first half. Whitemore had a few problems to deal with, no Ayden Demeijer or Josh vanZetten who had exams this week, so with the depth already being tested with Dumbuya and Beard suspended and Ambrose on the side lines, Whitemore had limited choices available, He didn’t have his trusty assistant in Tony Ludby present either as Tony was away celebrating his Fathers 100th birthday, and why wouldn’t you be. Congrats to Mr. Ludby on his 100th birthday by the way.
Nicholson stayed in the back line after his outstanding effort last week, while Jago came back into the starting line-up for the first time in over 5 matches, replacing Adam Beard. Tams came back in for Issa Dumbuya.
As stated, it was a disappointing first half for the Ranger faithful on the sideline, as the side struggled to get the momentum needed to break the Riverside attack. Chris Hunt did send out an ominous sign early, getting at the Riverside defense down the left side on numerous occasions. His pressure on the Riverside back line was also superb across 90 minutes, but the full extent of this would not be seen until the second half.
There really was little activity in the first half, with much of the play disputed in midfield, as both teams suffered from unforced errors and turning the ball over in midfield.
The opening goal came when Hunt again cut into the box and struck from close range, calling Joey Simmons into action for a good save, but his parry across the box fell for Patty Lanau-Atkinson to slot home and celebrate the goal at his brother’s expense.
This was the single moment that separated the two sides at half time, but Whitemore was not happy with a 1-0 lead.
Early in the second half, Riverside could not believe their luck as they somehow missed the chance to equalise, a fine corner was volleyed in by Will Guy, parried by Marshall Pooley to the feet of another Riverside striker who slammed his shot into Sam Luck, the deflection again fell for Riverside to finish with Pooley at this point in no-man’s land, the third follow up shot only found a Ranger chest and was eventually cleared by Todd Hingston, and Rangers had survived a hairy moment indeed.
From the sidelines, right up until the63rd minute when the floodgates opened, the game was evenly poised, and Rangers looked a little vulnerable to the counter, but the weight of possession and chances was defiantly in the favour of the home side, then it was like someone flicked the off switch the entire Riverside defense, including the normally reliable Simmons in goal. It started with Chris Hunt who got loose of his marker and dispatched a fine driven shot to double the lead. Then just minutes later Hunt had almost put the game beyond doubt when he scored a brilliant diving header, unmarked at the back post to make it 3-0.
Rangers traditionally switch off with such a score-line, but to the sides credit, they kept the foot firmly on the throat of their bleeding opponents. Hunt was a menace in the front third, and he had energy to burn, his pursuit of the ball in dispute or at his oppositions feet was something not seen this year, a back pass to the keeper was chased down, this forced an error from Simmons and he coughed the ball up to Lanau-Atkinson on the crisp of the 18 yard box, Patrick expertly placed the ball into the net for 4-0. Then to cap off a horror half for the Riverside keeper the shot from Chris Hunt was fumbled over the line and into the net for 5-0.
The score line didn’t completely reflect the overall flow of the game, as for 70 minutes, it was relatively close, but what it did do was highlight what applying appropriate pressure to your opposition can do, and how being clinical and ruthless with the opportunities you create can turn a 1-0 win or loss into a 5-0 thrashing.