Rangers on course to retain title
Somerset Eagles 2 Southampton Rangers 2
Southampton Rangers booked their spot in the Shield Final for the second successive season as they beat Somerset Eagles 2-0 at Devonshire Recreation Club yesterday.
Recognising the significance of the opportunity to defend their title, Rangers coach Jomar Wilkinson, spoke highly of the players and the club.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the club, community, and players,” he said. “We all had a goal of raising the quality of football at Southampton Rangers, and I couldn't have asked for better support so far in our quest to do that.”
Wilkinson was also full of praise for his team's defensive discipline on the day.
“I thought that we were the dominant team, particularly in the first half and probably should have been up by a higher margin.
“But we showed good character to stick to our plan defensively, and that allowed us to see the game out comfortably.”
It took a little while for Rangers to unlock a compact Eagles defence, but as they began to settle and move the ball, they started to find openings.
Donte Brangman had the first real chance after being played through down the right side, but pulled his shot wide of the target as he entered the box.
Moments later, the speedy attacker was behind the defence again. This time, his hard, low cross from the right was met at the back post by Cardel Henry, who finished from close range.
Tahj Wade then had two very good attempts to equalise. The first was a clever shot on the turn just inside the box, which goalkeeper, Ajai Daniels, did well to push around the post.
Wade then watched his well-struck free kick from 30 yards come off the top of the crossbar and out for goal kick.
Just before the half, Brangman had a couple of opportunities to extend the lead, but put both his efforts wide of the post with only the goalkeeper to beat.
Rangers picked up where they left off after the interval and within five minutes, had won themselves a penalty when Brangman was pulled down in the box after bamboozling his defender. The forward stepped up to take his own spot kick but it was not meant to be, as on this occasion, he would be denied by goalkeeper Lorenzo Lambert diving to his right.
Eagles would then inject some pace of their own into the match, bringing on Leo Burgess early in the half. The move almost had an immediate impact, when loud appeals for penalty were denied after the winger was brought down on the edge of the box, but only awarded a free kick.
Isaiah Taylor sealed the win just before the final whistle, when his strike from the edge of the box found the top corner.
Henry 27, Taylor 90
Somerset Eagles: L Lambert — C Medeiros, G Smith (sub: D Wooldridge 90), L Burch, E Fubler (sub: J Butterfield 88), S Lambert, A Morissey, D Simmons, A Wilkinson (sub: L Burgess 52), T Wade, A Telford. Substitutes not used: B Hunt, R Trott. Booked: Burch 50, Burgess 78, Smith 88.
Southampton Rangers: A Daniels — D Hill, D Cox, R Sampson, K Harrison, M Nisbett-Tankard, T Durham (sub: K Astwood 76min), Q Maynard, C Henry, I Taylor, D Brangman. Substitutes not used: K Durrant, D Steede, N Mello, J Hill,
A Butterfield, J Albuoy. Booked: Tankard.
Referee: D Jackson.