There are no easy games in football and that proved the case when the bottom placed team met the top over the weekend.
Wanganui City, newly promoted to the Lotto Federation League, came into the match on the back of two losses and looking to prove they belong in this league. In both losses they had been reduced to ten men due to a lack of discipline, compounding the pressure on the squad.
On the other hand, New Plymouth Rangers were sitting top after wins against Red Sox Manawatu and Wanganui Athletic but they also haven’t hit their stride yet this season. The new squad needs time to gel and the performances have been disjointed, albeit still enough to win.
Wanganui started the game on the front foot, keeping possession, dominating territory and probing the Rangers defensive line, although they were not able to find a way through. This left them vulnerable to the counter attack and Rangers were finding big gaps with through balls from the midfield. These paid off halfway through the first half twice in the space of two minutes when firstly, Taku Warren calmly slotted a one on one with the Wanganui keeper. Then Wade Randle finished off a flowing move down the right when he tapped in at the far post from a Dom Squatriti cross. This just made Wanganui more determined and they pushed forward again and again looking for a way back into the game. This came when Dan Aplin and then Anthony Bell netted before half time, with the teams going in level at the break.
The second half was an even affair with both teams tightening up through the middle. Chances were missed at both ends before Bell found space, rounded the Rangers keeper and tucked the ball away to take the three points. The win was well deserved for City and a lesson to Rangers that in this league, anyone can beat anyone on their day.
Rangers don’t have time to dwell on the result, heading off to play Wanganui Athletic on ANZAC day at Wembley Park. This Chatham Cup preliminary round fixture is a repeat of 2017 when Rangers won 4-2 after extra time, and they will be hoping to get back to winning ways. The travel heavy schedule for Rangers doesn’t let up as they then travel to Palmerston North on Saturday to play joint second North End AFC in the Lotto Federation League.
At a glance
25th April, New Plymouth Rangers verse Wanganui Athletic, Wembley Park, Chatham Cup
28th April, New Plymouth Rangers verse North End AFC, Skoglund Park, Federation League
Taku Warren chasing down a Wanganui City player. Photo credit - Bevan Conley