Hall Road Rangers secured safety and a second consecutive season in the NCEL Premier Division on Saturday as they worked hard to beat Thackley 2-1 at Haworth Park. Rangers grew more into the game as it went on and managed to see the game out very well after Thackley got a goal back to ensure they got the all important three points.
Hall Road boss Bill Gill admitted it was a strange feeling after the game but also credited the younger players in his squad.
It felt like the last game of the season. It was a very strange game and feeling afterwards. However, I’m heavily focused on the remaining games, the lads have hit great form and we have young players performing really well against established teams at this level.
Rangers made a blistering start to the match as they got the first goal in the 6th minute when Reggi Waud fired a shot from distance that flew through the Thackley goalkeeper’s reach into the back of the net. There were a handful of chances for Hall Road to double their lead but they weren’t able to take advantage of them.
Chris Spinks fired a shot over the bar whilst Jack Griffin also saw his shot go just over the Thackley goal. Rangers were tested at the back from Thackley set pieces but the visitors didn’t create any clear cut chances of note which left James Hitchcock relatively untroubled in the Hall Road goal. However,
Thackley were still in the game and looked like they may have had a goal them as the sides went in at half time with Rangers leading 1-0.
The second half gradually became a more open affair as Hall Road looked to get a second goal to kill the game off and Thackley tried to get themselves back into the match.
Benn Lewis and Danny Norton both had great chances for Rangers but they saw them go just wide of the Thackley goal. At the other end, the visitors had opportunities of their own as they hit the bar and also had a shot that went over the Hall Road goal.
Rangers eventually doubled their lead in the 80th minute when Reggi Waud grabbed a brace and his 6th goal in a week as he slotted home after superbly meeting a Chris Spinks delivery from a free kick.
Gill also had a lot to say about the youngsters in his squad who have taken the opportunities that have come their way with absolute aplomb.
I also want to mention 18 year old James Tullett who made his first senior start in this game and didn’t look out of place. Another 18 year old Jordan Clark played his 5th game of this season and was also superb at left back.
My final applauds go to 16 year old Reggi Waud who everyone is talking about as he scored another two goals in this game and that’s 5 goals in his last 3 starts. These young lads are players that will all play key parts in the club’s success over the next 3 seasons.
Things soon became less comfortable in the 83rd minute when Thackley got a goal back through a well drilled shot by James Rothel that squeezed into the net. The rest of the game consisted of Thackley trying to apply pressure on the Rangers back line and they managed to produce a fine safe from James Hitchcock who kept Hall Road’s lead in tact.
Rangers held on to win a third home game in succession in less than a week and made sure they are safe from any relegation trouble with 4 games to spare.
The Great Escape
Gill praised Thackley for the way they put pressure on his side throughout the game and thought they were unlucky not to get something from the game.
I thought Thackley applied themselves really well and were unfortunate not to take something from the game. However, we have taken our chances well again and defended as a unit really well. We now look forward to playing Garforth Town and Albion Sports on Monday and Tuesday next week. They are both games in which we will be looking to take maximum points from.
With safety now secured, Rangers can approach the last four games of the season with the freedom of not having any pressure on them whatsoever and it also allows for some rotation amongst the squad.
It also allows more opportunities for young players such as Jordan Clark, James Tullett and Reggi Waud to establish themselves in the plans of Bill Gill and Andy Watts with all three of those players putting in exceptional shifts against Thackley as well as those more experienced players including Jack Griffin, Chris Spinks and Danny Norton.
Gill summed up by appreciating the significance of his side securing their NCEL Premier Division status and also admitted that the club can start slowly preparing for next season.
Of course the club staying in the league is a great achievement and this now allows the chairman and vice chairman to plan for next season and get the best out of everyone ahead of pre season training in June.
Match Report by Oliver Harsley