Rangers AFC are back in the winning business, downing Nelson FC 3-1 at A and P Park on Saturday afternoon.
After drawing their previous encounter, their only glitch on a winning record this season, Rangers dug deep after conceding the first goal against the second-placed side in the Nelson division one football league.
They downed Nelson FC 4-0 the only other time they have met, in the first game of the season, but Rangers’ player/coach Tore Waechter said their opponents on Saturday were a better combination.
“This was one of the biggest three points [wins] I have been part of,” said the experienced midfielder. “I was impressed with how the guys didn’t let their heads drop after we went down 1-0. They certainly showed plenty of resolve.”
And they had to because Nelson FC began superbly, effectively turning the tables on the home side, who had set up their previous win with an early period of fast, accurate “quality football”.
“We were left chasing shadows in the first 20 minutes,” said Tore. “They could have been more goals up. We have usually dictated the early stages of our games but not this time … they pressured us every time we had possession.”
“However we didn’t panic and slowly worked our way back into the game.”
Rangers’ recovery began with a goal to Tore himself, 10 minutes before the break, levelling the scores and offering a confidence boost to the home side.
After halftime, FC Nelson again began strongly, but this time Rangers reacted quicker, having identified their rival’s key players.
Rangers’ second goal came midway through the half, a lengthy goal kick taken by Harrison Pine clearing Nelson’s defenders and allowing Carl Connor-McClean an opportunity which he took clinically.
He scored his second soon after, as the Nelson heads began to drop, skilful play on the right from Sam Pearson setting up the chance.
From then on Rangers “shut up shop”, man-marking the most dangerous Nelson players, which raised the visitor’s frustration levels in a game that got “a bit heated” at times.
The home side utilised a back four formation of player-of-the-day Jordy Columbus, Liam Sluiter, Harrison Pine and Ollie Baker which proved effective.
“It was a great way to start the second round,” said Tore.
Bullets win again
Meanwhile the BV Blenheim Bullets women’s team continued their progress up the Nelson division one table, beating Motueka AFC 8-2 in Motueka on Saturday.
Bullets fired up early, Tessa Hyland notching their first in the third minute.
Tiana Williams was next to score 10 minutes later, followed by a goal to Lauren Sloan in the 27th minute.
The home side pulled one back but second goals to Hyland and Sloan saw the visitors ahead 5-1 at the break.
Kirsten Pease scored their sixth, Hannah Martin their seventh then Pease completed her brace in the final minutes.
Bullets’ head coach Ian Thomas said, “It was a huge effort today from all the BV squad. Player of the day, for consistent work rate was Alicia McLeod.”
Next week Bullets face the table-topping Richmond Foxes.
Marlborough club scene
Bottle-O BV Masters wrapped up the Mayfield Motorworld Marlborough division one first round title when previous leaders Central Wolves, 10 points, slipped up on Saturday.
Masters, on eight points, took on BV Cobras at Athletic Park, needing all three points to eclipse Wolves. In the end, a Michael Jay goal in the 20th minute was enough to decide this tight match.
Meanwhile, at A and P Park, Wolves were beaten 3-2 by Call Care Trojans, who led 3-1 at halftime, following a brace of goals to Tomas Lupani and one to Niall O’Donohue. Steve McCaa scored both Wolves’ goals.
The third match saw Rangers Clubs of Marlborough register their first win of the season, downing Central Buccaneers 3-1 after leading 3-0 at halftime.
Final standings: BV Masters 11, Wolves 10, Trojans 7, Cobras 6, Buccaneers 4, Rangers CoM 4.
In division two Rangers Development, who had already sewn up the first round, beat Picton Crow Tavern 6-4 at Athletic Park. Trojans Dribbles beat Call Care Spartans 6-1 while Rangers Masters downed Central Privateers 4-1 at A and P after the scores were locked 1-1 at the break. Keagan Mortimer notched a hat-trick.
Final standings: Rangers Development 18, Trojans Dribbles 11, Redwood Masters 10, Picton 9, Rangers Masters 7, Spartans 6, Privateers 0.
Now senior football splits into three divisions, five teams contesting division one, four vying for division two honours and four doing battle in division three.