It was a wet and windy Tuesday night at Marlborough Park when Rangers took on Ilfracombe Town who were boasting a 100% record of 6 wins from 6 games so this was sure to be a tough task for a weekened Rangers squad missing leading scorer Jack Bryant and central defender Tom Hawkings both due to work commitments. In came veteran Simon Hill and Sam Bryant with Beechy continuing to lead the line.
In our last two matches Mitch Woodgate has been a virtual spectator but that was to change in this game as he brought off a string of brilliant saves, especially late in the game as a fresh Ilfracombe side(they did not play last Saturday) honed in on the Rangers goal, but more of that later.
Rangers played up the slope in the first half with the wind at their backs and it is fair to say that it was a half of few incidents with neither side creating much as they tried to master the conditions. The home side had a goal disallowed for a clear offside and Mitch did well to smother a close range effort from Squires just before the break but there was little else of any note to write about apart from a harsh booking for Sam Bryant.
The second half was much the same for the first half hour with Oliver in the Ilfracombe bombing every kick as far as he could upfield as the home side continued with their aerial threat with the gale force wind at their backs but Rangers defence stood firm. There was a lengthy hold up when Janes Ansell received a blow to the chin which would need stitches after the game but he soldiered on looking like Terry Butcher come the end. Jordan Lovibond was introduced for Joe Chamberlain on the hour and his pace caused the home team a few problems. We were now into the closing stages and Chris Roberts began to run the show for Ilfracombe and he brought a fantastic save from Mitch at his near post when he was clean through. Soon after he delivered a superb cross to the back post which Squires rattled the crossbar with, the ball bounced down and after a lengthy goalmouth scramble Simon managed to clear the ball to safety. It was obviously not going to be Ilfracombe’s day but, equally, it would have been hard on the Rangers lads if they had gone home with nothing to show for their efforts.
Manager Clive Jones commented after the game “One word sums up that performance, CHARACTER. Every one of my players showed me character out ther and that is all I ask. They all played their part in getting this result against a team which will certainly be challenging for honours at the end of the season. They are used to the pitch and how to handle conditions like we experienced tonight, but we matched them all over the park. I don’t like to single out players for praise but I thought I must give Mitch a special mention for his excellent performance between the sticks. I told the players after the game that we had played really well but I think we can get better, and that is my target for the team.”
Team: Woodgate, Mitchell, Ansell, Hill, Mills, Langabeer, Greening, S Bryant, Chamberlain(Lovibond 60 mins), Beech, Baily,
Subs not used: Pearson, Scott