Hall Road Rangers’ 2011/12 season came to a disappointing end on Saturday, when they lost 3-2 to fellow strugglers Long Eaton United at Dene Park, writes Alex Blackburne.Despite this, Rangers successfully avoided relegation – which was joint bosses Martin Thacker and Jamie Barnwell’s main objective when taking over – so NCEL Premier Division football will be gracing Dunswell for at least another season. “It turned out to be an end-of-season farce”, lamented Thacker after the game. “The pitch didn’t help, but the application of the players just wasn’t there today against a very poor Long Eaton team who were dancing around at the end because they’d won a football match. We’ve got to have that pride, but we don’t have it. It’s been a long old season, and it’s really hard to criticise the players because we only wanted to stay in the league, and we’ve done that, but that’s as poor as we’ve played since I took over.”
Rangers took the lead after nine minutes, when Jamie Heard’s long ball was knocked down by Neil Towler into the path of Barnwell, who rounded the ‘keeper and finished coolly. However, they were pegged back immediately, with Long Eaton midfielder Blaine Hancock skipping a few challenges and finishing well past James Fossdyke. The visitors took the lead on 35 minutes when Shaun Rickford turned home from close range, but Rangers were level by half-time when Steve Gawthorpe converted a penalty on 43 minutes after a United defender had handled in the box.
Long Eaton made it 3-2 on 72 minutes when Will Mellors-Blair superbly curled in from long range, leaving Fossdyke rooted. Thacker added, “There were a few people getting a chance in different areas because of unavailabilities, so I just said to go out with a bang, express yourselves, but don’t let it turn into an end-of-season debacle really. We didn’t play the conditions, we tried to play as if we were playing on a bowling green, which is wasn’t.”
The loss means Hall Road and Long Eaton switch places in the NCEL Premier Division, with Rangers now 16th, and they could move down to 17th if Nostell Miners Welfare win their final game of the season.
HALL ROAD: James Fossdyke, Jamie Heard, Steve Graham (Steve Chapman, 69), Steve Gawthorpe, Jamie Atkinson, Lee Parker, Joe Cooper (Ray Ford, 60), Martin Thacker (Darrel Thompson, 72), Neil Towler, Jamie Barnwell, Liam Cattermole. Subs not used: None.
Many thanks as always go to Alex for the report and interview. Alex is the Press Officer at Dene Park, and can be found on twitter. Hall Road Rangers are also on twitter, and you can click through to their official site here. For more information on the NCEL, click here.