Second Half Surge Powers Reds Past Rangers
IC- Northern Rangers FC
Northern Rangers 0
Clarence United 4 (Andrew Robb, 48’ 62’ Adam Hedge 50’, Paul Bremner 74’)
A dominant second half powered Clarence United past Northern Rangers and saw them jump into sixth on the table with a commanding 4-0 victory on the road at the NTCA.
Two goals in two minutes early in the second half after a cagey first 45 stunned the hosts, who had appeared to have momentum heading into the break and they never recovered.
The Reds added two more goals to secure a 4-0 win, including a bizarre goal to Paul Bremner when Rangers keeper Luigi Cordova threw the ball into the back of his head and it deflected past him for a fourth goal that summed up the second half for the Rangers.
It was the hosts who had started the brighter, the pace of Bruce Bown looked to be causing problems with Nick Lanau-Atkinson pulling the string in midfield but the defence of Clarence, led by the makeshift defensive pairing of Grant Malcolm and Adam Hedge was solid as they denied the Rangers attackers room to get shots off and held firm in what was a very accomplished display from a pair that wouldn't have played together before. Hedge in particular was a standout, on multiple occasions he blocked shots at the last moment or was on hand to get in the path of dangerous crosses.
As the half wore on Clarence started to get on the front foot and offer a bit in attack themselves but like Rangers they struggled to convert play in attacking areas into any meaningful chances. Phineas Aldridge curled a free kick from an acute angle that was palmed over, and Andrew Robb got in behind the back four only to fire tamely from a tight angle but neither was a chance that you would expect to score from.
Rangers then gained control of the midfield battle again and finished the half the stronger, but they too struggled to forge anything meaningful. They won a number of corners as Clarence opted for a no nonsense, safety first approach at the back, but they didn't come close from any of them.
Heading into the second half, most would have expected more of the same, but the game was quickly turned on its head by the Reds.
Early in the half a ball was played in from the right to Andrew Robb who was left unmarked in the box and he used the space to full advantage, hammering home a powerful shot into the corner of the net.
A minute later, from Clarence's next attack the lead was doubled. A corner was played to the back post where Paul Bremner rose highest and his header was tuned in by Adam Hedge to double their advantage.
The holes in the Rangers defence were profound and they were exposed again shortly after when Robb doubled his tally, getting in behind the defence, racing in on net and making it 3-0.
The Rangers were stunned, the first half had given no indication it would go this way and it got even worse when Luigi Cordova gifted Clarence a fourth in comical circumstances. The keeper launching his throw into the back of Paul Bremner's head and had to watch agonizingly as it deflected off him and rolled back past him into the net.
It made it 4-0 and summed up how dire the day was for the hosts. Clarence by contrast were ecstatic as they took their second win of the season over Rangers to jump to 6th on the table and they will be delighted to have stopped the rot of 22 goals conceded in the past month with a clean sheet. Makeshift it might have been, but the Malcolm/Hedge partnership looks to have promise and this was undoubtedly the sides best performance of the season.