The Lotto Federation Football League kicked off on Saturday in Palmerston North where New Plymouth Rangers faced Red Sox Manawatu. Rangers started the game well and forced Red Sox back into their own half for much of the first thirty minutes. Whilst they were applying all the pressure, they weren’t able to apply the finishing touch. Against the run of play, Red Sox then went closest to scoring when a cross from outside the box drifted and hit the far post and fortunately for Rangers, bounced away from goal. The two teams went into the half time break at 0-0.
Red Sox came out stronger in the second half and probably should have taken the lead five minutes in when their striker missed an open goal at the back post. This was a big wake up call for Rangers who immediately went and missed a gilt edged chance of their own when Dom Squatriti glanced his header wide from three yards. Still Rangers were creating the much better chances and eventually the pressure told when captain Wade Randle took the ball away from the keeper and was taken down to earn a penalty. Squatriti made no mistake this time calmly slotting the ball past the keeper to give Rangers the lead. The game became rather scrappy for the remaining twenty minutes as the players tired but Rangers were able to hold their lead without any real concern at the back, the match finishing 1-0 to Rangers. Man of the match Peter Kelbrick controlled the defence and ensured that debut keeper Jaidyn Jurd had a relatively quiet day at the office.
Coach Mal Bourgoise said it was just the start Rangers were looking for.
“We knew it wasn’t going to be pretty but we came for the three points and got them”
“We expect a battle every time we come here and today was no different”
Bourgoise praised his team however he wants the ball in the back of the net more.
“Red Sox came into the game because we didn’t take our chances, we will be working on that this week”
“Our possession and work rate were excellent and if we keep that up the goals will come”
Rangers will need to be on top of their game this weekend as Wanganui Athletic come to town. Athletic finished third in 2017 and got off to a flyer this season, beating Wanganui City 5-2 in their local derby.
In other results, Palmerston North Marist, who were relegated from the Central League in 2017 put on a goal scoring display against Hokowhitu FC, winning 7-2. Newly promoted North End AFC shocked Massey University 1-0.
Dom Squatriti in action against North Wellington's Ben Sigmund in a Chatham Cup clash last season.