By Neil Winsor
Photograph courtesy of AFC Mansfield Facebook page
Saturday December 16, Forest Town Arena, Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
HALL Road Rangers are looking to make it third time lucky this weekend with a tough trip to league leaders AFC Mansfield.
This will be the third meeting already this season between the two teams and although pushing The Bulls close on both occasions Hall Road have gone down by the odd goal in both encounters.
They were left heartbroken in the FA Cup Preliminary Round tie in August, when Craig Mitchell nicked it for Rudy Funk’s side with the last kick of the game after Josh Batty’s first half header appeared to be sending the game to a replay. before a nip and tuck affair at Haworth Park in the league saw Ollie Fearon notch the only goal in a 1-0 home defeat.
Despite the obvious threat of Fearon’s 30 goal exploits, the most in the NCEL top flight currently, Rangers hosts have a steel throughout the spine of their side.
Former North Ferriby duo Jonathan D’Laryea and Matt Wilson are regulars within the first team set-up whilst Matt Plummer at centre-half has featured for Scarborough Athletic previously, and Fearon is well backed up in the Premier Division pace setter’s goal siege by strike partner Nick Guest.
Their manager Rudy Funk is also well respected on the non-league circuit and looks on course to guide his side to their best ever finish this term, in just their second season at step five level.
For the trip though Funk’s opposite number Bill Gill will have three key players to the spine of his side return.
Jack Griffin, James Piercy and Rangers own leading scorer Chris Spinks are all set to make the trip.
Two consecutive postponements have allowed the return of a host of regulars from injury, however the different threat of suspensions may now ravage Bill Gill’s plans to spring an upset as Rangers will look to draw inspiration from sensational away wins at Handsworth Parramore and Thackley as well as creditable draws at Garforth and Pickering.
Although still 72 hours away the game could already be in doubt though following pictures released by the AFC Mansfield Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon which showed their Forest Town Arena covered in a blanket of snow (pictured above).
All updates regarding the status of the fixture and build up towards the weekend will be available throughout the remainder of the week as Hall Road hope to reach the halfway stage in their season.