Hall Road Rangers showed admirable fight and desire on Saturday, to come back from 2-0 down to beat Barton Town Old Boys 3-2 at the Euronics Ground. A first half Steve Gawthorpe goal, followed by second half strikes from ex-Barton pair Adam Crane and Mark Griffin, sealed a sublime turnaround for Hall Road, after they found themselves two behind with 15 minutes played. After the game, joint boss Jamie Barnwell labelled the victory as a “coming of age” for Rangers. “Before the game, we spoke about giving ourselves a chance to get into matches, and we found ourselves 2-0 down early on in the game”, he said. “At half-time, we spoke about getting our shape right, and we thought if we did that, it would give us a platform to get back in the game, and that’s how it’s transpired. There’s been a bit of a culture where when we’ve found ourselves down in games, we’ve never really recovered and I think it breeds that bit of negativity, but today we found a bit of belief, and we knew that we were in with a chance with the players we’ve got and once we got that one back, we knew we had the quality.”
Rangers made two changes to the side that lost 5-2 to Liversedge last weekend, with Jamie Heard replacing Darrel Thompson and Joe Cooper coming in for Danny Ricketts. Both departing players dropped to the bench. On a grim, overcast afternoon on the south bank of the Humber, it was Barton who started the better, and found themselves ahead with just four minutes on the clock. Former Hall Road defender Mike Gibson lashed in on the volley from close range. Ten minutes later, and moments after a powerful effort from Tom Lee had cannoned off the crossbar, Barton were two in front, with Scott Phillips smashing in from 20 yards. Having not really got their game flowing as yet, Rangers responded positively, and clawed one back with their first shot of the game. Adam Crane played in captain Steve Gawthorpe, who, after a swift turn inside the box, poked home for his 11th goal of the season. Half time: Barton Town Old Boys 2 Hall Road Rangers 1
Into the second half, and Hall Road looked a completely different team altogether. They were utilising their pacey widemen – Crane and Mark Griffin – to their full advantage, and capitalising on Barton’s often too high back line, with the likes of Martin Thacker and Gawthorpe planting delicious looping balls over the defensive line on a number of occasions. And on 54 minutes, Rangers’ endeavour paid off. A Barton attack was quelled and the ball cleared to the feet of Jamie Barnwell, who was in Hall Road’s half and with his back to goal. A neat first time lay-off by the Rangers joint boss to Liam Cattermole allowed the full back to set Crane free down the left. Crane left Barton skipper Ashley Dexter in his tracks, before taking the ball into the box and firing low and hard towards goal. Goalkeeper Liam Taylor took most of the sting off the shot, but couldn’t stop it from trickling under his body and over the line. With just over ten minutes left on the clock, and Rangers pressing, they got their just desserts. Crane fed through Griffin down the middle, and the winger delicately dinked the ball over the goalkeeper to put Hall Road deservedly 3-2 ahead – a scoreline that would stay the same until the final whistle.
It was fitting that the main instigators in Rangers’ turnaround were Crane and Griffin – both of whom had turned out for Barton in recent years – and Barnwell reserved special praise for the pair. “They’re two players with outstanding ability and bags of pace”, he said. “We’ve always said that if we can work on their final delivery, they’re better than the level they’re playing at. Today, they’ve proved that because we’ve had end results that we’ve always been asking for. Both of them wanted to have an impact on the game, not just because they were back at their old stomping ground, but because they’ve been wanting to show what they can do for a while.”
Rangers leapfrogged Nostell Miners Welfare with the victory to claim 15th spot in the NCEL Premier Division ahead of their final game of the season at home to Long Eaton United next weekend.
HALL ROAD: James Fossdyke, Jamie Heard, Liam Cattermole, Steve Gawthorpe (Darrel Thompson, 81), Jamie Atkinson, Lee Parker, Mark Griffin, Martin Thacker, Jamie Barnwell (Ray Ford, 80), Joe Cooper (Danny Ricketts, 68), Adam Crane. Subs not used: None.
As always, huge thanks to Hall Road’s Press Officer, Alex Blackburne, for this report. You can follow Alex and the club on Twitter, and for more information on the club, visit their website. For more information on the Northern Counties East League, visit the league’s official website.