Rangers wrap up division one title

The Rangers AFC squad. Photo: Supplied.

Rangers AFC are the Nelson division one football champions after beating Nelson College 3-0 in Nelson on Saturday.

The Blenheim side, who have dominated the competition since the outset, wrapped up the league title with a game remaining.

Manager Wolfie Waechter said Rangers were wary of the student side, especially after their recent goal-scoring efforts.

However he said “everyone was up for it today, although they were a little bit nervous after last week’s effort”.

He was referring to their shock loss to Tahuna which dented their unbeaten record this season.

However, they made no mistake on Saturday.

After eight minutes they were on the board, courtesy of an Adam Rose goal from close range. Then he repeated the dose in the 35th minute, slotting the ball home after Carl Connor-McClean had laid it off.

Leading 2-0 at the break Rangers looked well in control, but College had other ideas, creating a couple of clear scoring opportunities, one saved superbly by keeper Dan Diamond.

Jono Masters entered the fray in the 70th minute and wasted no time getting among the action, scoring Rangers’ third to put the match to bed.

Waechter said the frequent away trips, while tiring at times, had helped mould the side into a tight unit.

“I expected it to be a highly-contested season, and it was … there were some quality sides involved and all very competitive. It was a really close competition and that is what you want.

“I always thought we would be in the running for the title because we have a very balanced squad, some experienced players such as Jordy [Columbus] and [player/coach] Tore [Waechter] who guide and organise on the field, plus some talented new ones in the team.

“We also had quality coaching and they all worked hard throughout.

“Overall they were just a good bunch of mates together.”

He said the efforts of the back line [Liam Sluiter, Harrison Pine and Columbus], in conjunction with defensive midfielders Waechter and Scott Belsham was a major factor in their success.

Carl Connor-McClean was always a menace up front and scored some important goals while the experience of Julian and Martin Delgado, plus Belsham, regularly shone through.

Next week Rangers play their final league game, at Athletic Park Blenheim against Richmond then, a week later, they meet FC Nelson in the Price Charity Cup final, this time in Nelson with the league/cup double on the line.

Meanwhile, the Blenheim Valley Bullets, who play in the Nelson division one women’s league, put up a gutsy effort with only 10 players before losing 4-3 to FC Nelson at Athletic Park on Saturday.

FC went two-up early on before Lucy Martin made it 2-1 after 15 minutes. She repeated the dose just before the halftime break to level the scores after a period of sustained pressure from the home side.

FC scored first after oranges, but the home side levelled again through Riley Preece with 10 minutes to play.

However, a goal on the break to Nelson’s Zoe King ultimately decided the issue, despite BV throwing everything at it in the final stages.

Coach Ian Thomas said he was proud of his charges.

“The fact that we came so close to securing a draw with only 10 players speaks volumes.

“It is hard to single out individual players, however Tessa Hyland made a huge contribution in midfield and Hannah Martin was our player of day for her tireless effort in defence.”

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