Milton Utd 1 - Thame Rangers 1
By Dave Ridgley
Rangers after a dominating first half start the New Year with a draw on the road at Milton.
In their first game of the New Year Thame Rangers dominated first half possession but failed to capitalize with only one goal to their name and had to settle for a draw as ten man Milton held on to share the points. No one likes to criticise other clubs facilities as we all know how hard it is at this level but the pitch was horrendous, it made it almost impossible to play. Credit to both sides though they did try and get the ball down and play which wasn’t easy.
Rangers started the game the brighter side of the two and continued to threaten throughout the first half with good combinations and patterns of play. Calvin Evans and Adie Smith were both looking dangerous down the right alongside Miles Baxter and Shannon Jesson down the left. The pace of Patrick Buston up front unsettled the home defence on numerous occasions. The first opportunity fell to Buston but his effort was saved. Rangers forced a number of corners which from one Jordan Davis headed wide and had another cleared off the line after beating the keeper. Jordan Rogers then had an effort that was goal bound only to be blocked by a defender. Buston was then released to open the scoring. Out pacing the home defence and beating the keeper to the ball before calmly placing his effort in the back of the net. Rangers had opportunities to increase their lead through Dan Hatton, Rogers and Baxter but their efforts were saved. Milton’s only efforts in the first half came from range. Three direct fee kicks that all sailed over or wide.
The second half was more even as Milton looked to get back in the game which they did when gifted a free kick that was clearly not a foul after Jesson won a fair tackle on the edge of Rangers Box. The taker hit his effort passed the wall and into the net to equal up the scores. Rangers replied with their own free kick that Evans hit agonisingly just wide. Then came the talking point of the game that saw the home side reduced to ten men. A late horrific career threatening challenge on Dan Bowker, that took his standing leg with all his weight out on it above the knee gave the referee absolutely no choice than to produce red. Fortunately for Rangers another goal keeper was on the bench as Bowker was carried to the changing rooms. Rangers with a man advantage and sensing victory piled on the pressure. A switch in formation and throwing bodies forward created further chances. Rogers had a half volley sail just over when well placed and George Ashworth hit a volley just wide. A cross from Evans on the right failed to connect with Hatton’s out stretched leg and another from Rogers on the left done the same. Milton sat deep and looked to counter and in one such attack had an effort just sail over. Rangers failed to find the winner but fair play to a spirited Milton who dug deep with ten men to hang on for a draw.
Bowker (Budziszewski), Smith, Jesson, Ashworth, Davis, Johnston, Evans, Rogers, Buston, Hatton (Hurley), Baxter.