The Division Two title race is tight at the top, currently four teams are able to win the league, the Rutland Oaks are certainly contenders but will need positive results in their remaining four matches to stay at the top.
It is with this knowledge that the Rutland side lined up on the pitch with trepidation. Rangers were only a few points behind in the table and with games in hand a victory for Rutland would be essential for putting clear space between the two sides.
The Oaks responded with a vital 3-0 home victory on Saturday.
The first half was a pacey but somewhat of a shaky start, the Oaks seemed to be relying on the big hit to the forwards, which was easily swept up by the Rangers’ defence. Rutland found themselves at the edge of the opposition’s goal area on a number of occasions but were unable to make any impact. Rangers on the other hand were giving the home side reasons to be concerned.
Rangers’ number 7 was bossing the midfield and picking out some beautiful passes through to the forwards giving them numerous chances on goal.
Credit has to be given to the Oaks defence, particularly Sam Raybould, who had a fantastic game making a number of key clearances off the line and keeper Ralph Avery who used his intimidating presence in goal to keep the score line at 0-0.
Team coach this week, Tracy Taylor had some harsh words for the side at half time, changes were put into place and greater emphasis on keeping possession and finding the simple passes were demanded. Rutland lined up for the second half determined and hungry for the win.
As can often be the case the Oaks started the second half slowly and allowed the opposition to threaten their goal early on, Rangers broke from the halfway line outnumbering Rutland’s defence and finding the D. The Oaks were indebted to Ralph Avery as he made a succession of cool, calm and collected clearances from the line to keep the score sheet clean.
Rutland were now to find their rhythm, left winger Ryan Hull had an exceptional game, using his blistering pace to intercept balls and push the play further up the field. It was not long before the first goal came, Lucy Ginn was in the right place to take a deflection from Ryan Hull’s pass into the D to open up the scoring.
The second goal was soon to follow, with the middle of the field now being comfortably controlled by James Moulding and Greg Topping with Richard Chisholm working hard on the right to take out the threat of Rangers’ number 7.
The Oaks dominated the final 20 minutes of the game. Lucy Ginn received the ball on the 25 and made a fabulous run down the left and along the goal line to slip the ball past the keeper into the corner.
Despite finding themselves two goals down Rangers were not quite out of the game yet, they once again began to press the home side’s D. The Oaks found themselves having to face five short corners in a row, Rangers although a well drilled side turned out to be no match for the formidable Rutland defence, balls were cleared, deflected and eventually play moved up the pitch away from the danger zone.
Wingers Christine Stride and Rachel Dinwoodie proved once again their importance to the team battling up and down the wings; making key runs, distributing the ball to the forwards and tracking back to defend any breaks from the opposition.
It was James Moulding who found the third goal to effectively kill off any chance of Rangers fighting back. James received the ball at the top of the D, deftly flicking it over the defender’s stick through onto goal to strike the ball wide of the keeper and in on the far post.
The full time whistle blew with the Rutland Oaks taking the win 3 – 0 and remaining at the top of the league.