Hall Road Rangers 2, Maltby Main 3

Tuesday March 27

Haworth Park

NCEL Premier Division

By Ollie Harsley

It was a spirited performance from Hall Road Rangers but it wasn’t enough to get them a positive result as they lost 3-2 to Maltby Main at Haworth Park on Tuesday night. The game was finely balanced at times and ultimately it was the 5th placed side that came out on top.

Hall Road boss Bill Gill was disappointed with the way his side lost the game and felt they had a chance of winning it had they managed the occasion better. “I’m very disappointed as I believed we had enough to win this game and after taking the lead and still ending up losing the game it deflated me. We were very much on it from the off but once we lost our right back and had to change personnel and tactics we never looked like scoring and created very little. The players need to learn more about game management in these scenarios which was something we were very good at last year”, Gill said.

Hall Road started the game well and should have taken the lead when Chris Spinks had a header that went just over the bar. This was a chance that should have been buried and it would have given Rangers the best possible start. Maltby then soon began to create some of their own opportunities which tested James Hitchcock in the Hall Road goal. He produced a couple of great saves to deny the visitors taking the lead and a Maltby shot went just over the bar as the visitors dominated in attack. Hall Road’s resistance was broken in the 20th minute when Ross Duggan converted his penalty to give Maltby the lead.

Rangers didn’t let that get them down though as they fought back well and looked for an equaliser. Fraser Hansen had a fine long range strike saved by Josh Lill in the Maltby goal. If it had gone either side of the goalkeeper it would have most certainly given Rangers an equaliser. Hansen was a constant menace for Rangers down the left flank throughout the first half. However, it didn’t take too long for that elusive equaliser to come as Gareth Owen headed home from a corner to get Hall Road back into the game in the 24th minute. The rest of the first half mostly consisted of both sides cancelling each other out with the only chance of note coming from Hall Road which was a shot that sailed over the bar.

The second half was arguably more entertaining as the game became more open as both sides looked to take the points for differing reasons. Maltby nearly took the lead in the early stages of the half when a header from a free kick went over the bar. Rangers then won a penalty of their own when Josh Batty was hacked down by Maltby goalkeeper Josh Lill which Chris Spinks converted in the 50th minute to give them the lead. It was to be the same defensive mistakes that cost Rangers the points as momentary lapses of concentration allowed Maltby to punish them with ease.

Maltby equalised in the 64th minute after Steven McDonnell slotted home albeit with the assistance of Hall Road’s lacklustre defending from a throw in. Things got worse in the 74th minute as Maltby regained the lead and made it 3-2 when Shawn Mitchell finished well after being perfectly picked out by a second ball that spilt the Rangers defence open. Rangers kept on going as the game came to an end and nearly grabbed an equaliser when substitute Sam O’Malley hit a shot that produced a good save from Josh Lill which kept Maltby in front. Ultimately, Maltby managed to see the game out in a professional manner and took the 3 points from a game that could have gone either way.

Gill also heaped praise onto Maltby and picked out their two strikers in particular. “Full credit to Maltby as they are good at what they do. I thought their two front lads were outstanding, some of the combination play is the best I’ve seen all season”, Gill said.

There are a small number of positives to take from a Hall Road perspective. The way they played in the first half was good but the defensive errors that led to the Maltby goals in the second half must be eradicated if Rangers are to stay in the NCEL Premier Division.

Pickering Town are the next visitors to Haworth Park on Saturday and it will be another tough game for Rangers as they currently occupy 3rd position in the NCEL Premier Division table. The Pikes came from 1-0 down to win 4-1 at Rainworth MW also on Tuesday night so they will have plenty of confidence coming into this game. However, if Hall Road can put in a good performance and cut out the silly defensive mistakes then they will have a great chance of getting a positive result against Pickering at the weekend.

Gill summed up by looking ahead to what will be another tough encounter against Pickering Town at Haworth Park on Saturday. “We now look to bounce back on Saturday in our home game against Pickering Town on Saturday“, Gill concluded.

The support of the fans is crucial to helping the club both on and off the pitch and a packed out Haworth Park would do the world of good to the players and staff as they continue to fight against the threat of relegation.