HALL Road Rangers slipped to just their fifth defeat of the season when a four game consecutive winning streak was halted by a determined Selby Town side in the NCEL First Division.
After Josh Batty’s strike five minutes before the break opened the scoring, it looked as though this Boxing Day clash may go to form, however a spirited second half performance by Selby ensured Rangers management duo Dave Ricardo and Bill Gill’s return to their former clubs ended in defeat.
On a blustery afternoon the first half was extremely even and competitive.
Selby had two players booked in the first half an hour whilst the only effort on goal of real note, was a Chris Spinks free kick which hit the wall from a central position.
Selby’s best chance of the half came when Phil Dobson had to be alert to snuff out a Calum Ward chance, saving well with his legs.
Rangers first genuine shot on goal, came minutes later, when on 33, midfielder Conner Harman stung the palms of host keeper Peter Lawrie, with a stinging half volley from distance.
Hall Road though did take the lead on 40 minutes through a calamitous defensive error involving Lawrie and a defender, which Batty showed great awareness to pounce and fully capitilise by tapping into an empty net.
Hall Road though never got going in the second half, as their hosts showed great energy and willingness to close down Ricardo’s men.
Selby looked rejuvenated after the break and within two minutes were level.
Josh O’Neill was threaded through superbly as Rangers backed off, and O’Neill duly slipped the ball under an onrushing Dobson to level.
Norton jinked into the penalty area with the intent of nudging Rangers back in front but fired wide of the far post before Selby took control.
Dobson had to tip an effort over from Robins leading scorer Liam Flanagan but the Selby midfielder was not to be denied on 63 minutes.
After another slide rule pass, this time by Ward, Flanagan showed great composure to smartly round Dobson and roll into an empty net to send the hosts delirious.
It was no more then the hosts deserved in truth, and Flanagan missed a glorious opportunity getting on the end of a driven cross but was unable to guide his effort on target with the goal at his mercy.
As frustration began to set in, Louis Kirk and substitute Ash Allanson were both booked before Belcher saw red, just seconds after he was booked in added time.
Rangers boss Ricardo lamented his side’s defending for Selby’s two goals:
“It is disappointing that despite us taking the lead, we’ve failed to get going in the second half and the two goals we have conceded are particuarly sloppy.
Our second half performance simply wasn’t good enough, but having said that the lads have always responded well after a set-back and we are yet to lose consecutive games.
We’ll be keen to get the right result in the return fixture at Haworth Park next Monday.”
The defeat sees Rangers remain in fifth, and despite 2016 ending in somewhat of a whimper, the club have taken giant strides in the second half of the year and remain on course for a promotion charge in 2017.
01 – Josh Batty and Danny Norton celebrate first goal
02 – Dave Ricardo
03 – Josh Batty on the ball
04 – Danny Norton on the ball
05 – Josh Batty rides challenge from keeper to score