Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A Casual Christmas Present

Saturday 21st December
ER County League Division 4
Easington Utd Casuals 4 Cottingham Rangers 1 

It has been a long time coming.  Twelve league games in fact; fourteen matches if you throw in the two first-time cup exits along the way.  But now, as we approach Christmas the Casuals have finally got their season up and running…and in some style too.
Having witnessed the First Team continue their recent improved run the previous weekend, courtesy of a 3-1 home win over Brodsworth Welfare, I approached Low Farm for this one hoping that the “feel good factor” at the ground may just help give DC’s boys the lift they so desperately required.
Not that the signs were good.  The previous weekend a 7-0 drubbing at leaders Blue Bell Nafferton had left them rooted at the foot of the Division 4 table and seemingly already consigned to a return whence they came two years’ earlier.
In addition the player-base continued to get smaller and this weekend was the last full working one for most before the Yuletide Break…which meant the added complications thrown up by ‘Mad Friday’ the day before the game.
As it turned out the lack of Reserves fixture meant DC could just about scrape a full 14-man squad – although the manager didn’t help things by himself succumbing to the aforementioned Friday’s festivities.  A place on the subs bench was all he could commit to.
Elsewhere, the availability of Wicks brought much-needed guidance to an inexperienced midfield, while at the heart of the defence was a McNaught brothers partnership first forged in the late 1980s!

Before kick-off the younger McNaught, Andrew – aka ‘Biff’ – was presented with a memento of him having recently become the third player to make 700 appearances for Easington.  His smile as he received the gift from Vice-Chairman Mickey Bo would be matched by that at the end of a very enjoyable ninety minutes.
Cottingham Rangers AFC was founded in September 1972 following a conversation between two dads, namely Mr Ron Brown and Mr Brian Metcalf.  This came about because Westfield School in Cottingham did not run a football team. The two agreed that all the boys in Cottingham Rangers would come from Cottingham and Skidby area, and would attend Cottingham High School.  It was decided between them to form two teams, the younger team being managed by Mr Brown, with Mr Metcalf managing the older team.
From this humble beginning Cottingham Rangers has grown in stature not only on the playing field front, but off it as well with significant community links formed with Swift Caravans (the main sponsor) and partnerships with local schools through the FA's School- Club Link programme and the University of Hull Sports & Leisure department.
The club now runs teams from U8's through to open-age, as well as catering for younger children within the community at the club's mini soccer school for children from 5 upwards.
Currently, Cottingham Rangers boasts 17 teams, with members in the East Riding county League, Hull Sunday Boys League and the East Riding Girls League.  At this moment in time the Club has in the region of 400 children associated with Cottingham Rangers AFC.
Players now come to the club from all over the East Riding of Yorkshire as well as from the City of Hull.
Of more relevance to today’s game, Cottingham arrived at Low Farm comfortably situated in mid-table and already having been one of the Casuals’ conquerors.  This came via a 4-2 win at King George VI Playing Fields earlier in the season.  However, today the roles would be reversed.
I arrived at the game just after kick-off but it was immediately apparent that we’d got the bit between our teeth.  And, following the first of umpteen missed chances, we scored; Ben Akam linking well with one of this season’s new boys Andy Dawson before strolling on and beating the Rangers keeper with a coolness that bordered on arrogance.
For a side that came into the game in such low spirits, the goal suddenly inspired a wave of confidence through the ranks and Tom Emerson added a second after more fine work by Dawson.  Two up at the break, the only concern for the hardy Farm Faithful was that chances continued to be missed.
At the other end Brettles – the latest of this season’s numerous stand-in keepers – carried an air of authority sadly lacking for much of the season.  And on the few occasions he was extended he was – largely – up to the task.
However, when he was beaten by Paul Shipley’s second half header further missed chances had prompted a feeling of anxiety among players and spectators.  Emerson’s second – a superb strike from 25 yards – soon settled this.  

An official match report (with pics courtesy of Craig Stephenson) can be found here
Pictures of the game can also be found on our Facebook page

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