Jones treble sinks Rangers
Somerset 3 Southampton 0 Malachi Jones went to bed with a big smile on his face last night after scoring a hat-trick to sink his former team at Somerset Cricket Club.
Better known for his cricketing exploits, the talented all-rounder showed he can score goals as well as runs when he netted his first goals in the Premier Division to deny joint leaders Rangers the victory that would have enabled them to take over sole possession of first place in the standings.
“I’ve been off the football scene for a long time and felt it was just a matter of time before I got my groove back,” said a modest Jones afterwards. “I just wanted to get that league duck off my back and I feel I’m coming into my own now. Those were my first league goals in the top flight.
“It’s always good to score against your former club and to score a hat-trick is always special and I’ll treasure it forever. Just one goal would have done it for me and this is something I’ll never forget, especially doing it in front of my family and friends.”
The best of the three goals broke the deadlock in the 27th minute when a nice touch by Dion Stovell — Rangers’ cricket captain — sent Jones clear of the defence before beating the advancing Jason Smith with a first time shot into the empty net from the edge of the box.
Rangers were well in the game up to that point but the goal gave the home side an extra lift as Tyrell Burgess went close to adding a second minutes later. Rangers suffered a blow in the 34th minute when defender Jahma Charles limped off with a hamstring pull and Jamel Hill came on to replace him.
The second half saw Somerset continue to press for a second goal as Tahj Wade blasted a good opportunity wide of the near post before Rangers had strong claims for a penalty turned down by referee Anthony Mouchette after Jahni Bean went down in the box after a challenge from goalkeeper Shaquille Bean three minutes after the restart.
The match had a controversial moment in the 59th minute when Stephen Astwood came on to replace Ezekiel Stoneham only for the match commissioner to discover a minute later that Astwood was not listed on the Rangers teamsheet. After a brief delay Astwood was withdrawn and replaced by Travis Wilkinson.
Rangers’ problems got worse after that as Somerset added a second goal through a neat finish at the near post by Jones while Rangers were down to ten men as Wilkinson waited to come on in the 65th minute. Jones capped a memorable night in the 76th minute when he met a cross from the left from substitute Nacari Smith and sidefooted home at the near post to complete his hat-trick. It didn’t matter that he was subsequently booked for taking off his shirt and throwing it in the air in celebration of the goal.
It just wasn’t Rangers’ night as goalkeeper Smith went off with a gash to his head after a collision with sub Johnny Bean, leaving Janeiro Tucker to play the last few minutes in goal.