Warriors hit Rangers for six at NTCA
Olympia Warriors got back to winning ways in convincing fashion, running out 6-0 winners over Northern Rangers at the NTCA. Warren Wadawu secured a brace in the first half while Nicholas Zammit scored a superb long range shot on his debut off of the bench as the Warrior comfortably accounted for last placed Rangers.
Luigi Cordova started back in goals for Rangers with Wes Chugg in reserve while Olympia opted to give a full debut to Jairus Lesek, a starting debut to Mark Ortmann and for Zammit to make his first appearance on the bench at this level.
The game quickly came alive with Olympia and Rangers exchanging attacks at both ends and it looked like the first goal could go either way.
Gavin Hoy was particularly busy down the right and combined well with several neat exchanges between Wadawu and the overlapping Thomas Little. His hard work was rewarded just 10 minutes in to the game. Nearing the halfway line Joel Griffoen attempted a short pass which Hoy read well to intercept. Caught unawares the Rangers defence scrambled as Hoy sprinted in to space, drew out Cordova before he squared for Nick Mearns to tuck away from close range.
Six minutes later Olympia doubled their lead with a similar attack down the right and a low cross being slotted home by Wadawu.
Six minutes later Wadawu rounded Cordova on the edge of the box and the Rangers defence swarmed all around. The Olympia forward was brought down and a penalty was awarded. Hoy calmly slotted home the spot kick low to the keeper’s right to make it 3-0.
Despite the three goal lead that the visitors had built there were still chances for Northern Rangers. A short lob over the back line had the industrious Pat Lanau-Atkinson bursting on to a bouncing ball which he hit well under pressure. But the dipping shot wouldn’t drop enough and it floated just over the bar.
The game seemed destined for only one outcome and it was made more likely by Wadawu’s second, scoring a glancing header from a corner moments later to make it 4-0.
One minute in to first half injury time Rangers found themselves five goals adrift with Shae Hickey volleying home the rebound after Wadawu’s goal bound shot was blocked on the line.
During the half Cordova had an attempt at playing right back after being drawn wide by an Olympia player. This may have played a part in him being replaced by Chugg at halftime.
It would have been easy to expect more goals but as the half bore on there was more balance to the game. A free kick in to the box by Lanau-Atkinson found Daniel Sparshott who did well to volley amongst a crowded penalty area however his shot flew high.
Jacob Leaman, Wadawu, Hickey and Hoy enjoyed plenty of time with the ball and displayed a sublime understanding throughout the match. None more so when they launched upfield, Wadawu cut back from the byline for Leaman who unleashed a rising shot. Chugg leapt high at full stretch to push the ball on to the bar and away from danger.
Olympia had been unable to score in the second half but just as the game was petering out the freshly brought on Zammit latched on to a ball outside the Rangers box and sent an unstoppable strike to the top left corner of goal.
With a five goal win under his belt Glen McNeill unsurprisingly described his team as ‘clinical’ and ‘ruthless’ but acknowledged that Rangers were improved in the second half.
Des Baker hadn’t much to say about the team’s performance and did not want to speak on record about the reason for the keeper change at half time.
Throughout the match Olympia Warriors played with the form of last year’s title winners. Hoy and Wadawu had been particularly impressive along with Hickey and Leaman. Northern Rangers will again need to train hard and seek a way to galvanise their squad to be a more consistent performer in the tail end of the season if they are to gain anything from 2016.