TEN-MAN Hall Road Rangers returned to winning ways with a 4-2 win over Pontefract Collieries in a feisty NCEL Division One affair at Haworth Park. A quick-fire second half brace from Josh Batty, alongside an Ash Dexter strike and Scott Phillips’ 10th goal of the season were enough to give Rangers the points after Brad Ricketts was dismissed for violent conduct ten minutes into the second half.
The game threatened to boil over on a number of occasions, none more so then when Rangers midfielder Tom Bennett appeared to be deliberately tripped by the Pontefract dugout when retrieving the ball from a throw in early on.
Hall Road were the quickest to settle though, dominating possession, as James Piercy from two similar positions struck wide early on, whilst Piercy forced a save from Pontefract keeper Ben Saynor after 30 minutes.
With the scores level at the break, Rangers took the lead through Josh Batty, who just days after celebrating his 21st birthday was on hand to open the scoring five minutes after the restart.
The visitors struck back immediately though as Kane Reece unleashed an unstoppable shot past Thibault Granger in the Rangers goal.
In a frantic opening to the second half, Rangers showed great resolve to restore their lead on 53 minutes. Batty again was on hand to deftly glance his header past Saynor to grab his third goal in a week.
Rangers were then reduced to ten-men when an ugly brawl broke out. With Ricketts and visiting striker Michael Dunn the main culprits, Ricketts was dismissed whilst Dunn was just given a talking to and yellow.
Chris Jackson was then fortunate to remain on the pitch when he appeared to catch French keeper Granger late, but was only booked. After 65 minutes Rangers went further ahead through skipper Ash Dexter. After a set-piece was only half cleared, centre-half, Dexter rifled home with an expert finish.
With Rangers working hard trying to counter-act the numerical disadvantage, they begun to tire and with eighteen minutes remaining the visitors reduced the deficit.
A pin-point cross from the right by Andrew Seed was met by Chris Jackson, who unmarked, steered his header into the top right corner of the net. Although a nervy last quarter was expected, Rangers still looked comfortable and despite a few nervy moments towards the end, including a last ditched Danny Norton challenge, restored their two goal advantage with six minutes remaining through Scott Phillips.
After chasing a seemingly lost cause on the right flank, Phillips forced the mistake from Jeffs and despite having his first effort saved, Phillips composed himself well to convert the rebound and secure the points for Rangers.
Clearly delighted after the game, Rangers Manager Dave Ricardo said:
“I thought we kept our shape superbly well. We cautiously asked the lads before the game to keep our shape in any kind of scenario, and we did that.
It was imperative we kept our shape when we went down to ten men, and I think the lads did that superbly against a very good Pontefract side.
It was pure elation when the full-time whistle went because everybody saw how hard the lads had to work for it today.”
Rangers will have a quick turnaround as they invite Pickering Town to Haworth on Tuesday night in the 3rd round of the league cup. Kick off will be 7:45 at Haworth Park.