Rangers AFC continued their unbeaten run in the Nelson division one football competition on Saturday, but their path to the top is becoming increasingly tough as their Nelson-based rivals target the high-flying Marlborough outfit.
On Saturday they downed Nelson Suburbs Development 2-1 at Saxton Fields, eventually coming out on top of a torrid battle against a home side containing a couple of players dropped down from Suburbs’ Mainland team.
“It’s getting tough,” said Rangers’ player/coach Tore Waechter. “All the teams seem to be getting up for it against us now, but we keep pulling through at the moment.”
Rangers’ first goal came after 20 minutes, player/coach Tore Waechter taking possession on the edge of the box then finding Jono Masters, who had blindsided the defence with a run from halfway. He scored from around the penalty spot.
Rangers had a couple more chances in the first spell but were guilty of giving away possession too easily. They were made to pay just before halftime, being caught out on a counterattack as the home side equalised.
The match’s deciding goal came five minutes after the break. Harrison Pine producing a measured pass to put Carl Connor-McClean one-on-one with the keeper.
After that, Rangers were forced to scramble as the home side enjoyed long periods of possession but kept their structure. Suburbs’ best chance came in the final minutes. An in-swinging corner cleared the defence and was bound for goal before centre midfielder Scott Belsham headed it off the line.
Belsham was player of the day, along with Liam Sluiter, Sam Pearson and Martin Delgado.
Next week Rangers play the same side, at the same place, but in a different competition. They will play in the first round of the Price Charity knockout cup before resuming their division one campaign on August 8.
Standings: Rangers 19, FC Nelson 13, Richmond 9, Suburbs 9, Tahuna 6, Nelson College 4.
Bullets in tough battle
Meanwhile, the BV Bullets side underlined their title potential in the Nelson women’s division one league, holding top-of-the-table Richmond Foxes to a 2-0 scoreline on Saturday.
Both coaches described the battle between the two top sides at Jubilee Park as a “nailbiter” – neither team leaving anything in reserve.
BV started strongly, a sharp strike from Kirsten Pease saved by the narrowest of margins by Foxes’ keeper.
A period of fast and accurate football followed from BV, with Foxes employing a ‘long ball and chase’ approach, until finally Jenny Harvey slipped one past the BV keeper in the 25th minute to give her side a 1-0 halftime lead.
The second half was no less a battleground. BV stitched together a stylish attack but Lauren Sloan’s finish was denied by the keeper.
The Foxes retaliated quickly, a second goal being awarded to Harvey from a disputed offside position to complete the scoring.
BV coach Ian Thomas described it as a “great game with tremendous fight from both sides”.
“Our solid defence shut them down time and again while our midfield were tireless in creating opportunities”.
BV’s player of the day was hard-working goalkeeper Taz Gilbert.
Standings: Foxes 18, Bullets 15, FC Nelson 13, Suburbs 6, Nelson College 3, Motueka 1.
With the first round having concluded in the Mayfield Motorworld Marlborough men’s club competition, the sides split into three divisions for Saturday’s second round.
In division one, Call Care Trojans proved far too strong for Central Buccaneers at A and P Park, winning 6-0, Tomas Lupani scoring four goals and Gustavo Cruz the other two. In the other encounter, Central Wolves rebounded to down BV Cobras 4-0 at Athletic Park. Steve McCaa scored twice, as did Sam Boyce.
Division two saw Rangers Clubs of Marlborough down Trojans Dribbles 3-1 and Rangers Development beat Redwood Masters 3-0. Both games were at A and P Park.
In division three Call Care Spartans downed Central Privateers 3-0 at Athletic Park while Picton Crow Tavern lost 6-1 to Rangers Masters at Endeavour Park.