Boro Rangers 2-2 Redcar Athletic
Rangers: Danny Lofts (48’, 81’)
Steelmen: Donny Holdsworth (35’), Lewis Ritson (74’)
Lewis Ritson opened his account in red and navy, as the ten men of Redcar were twice pegged back in a Boxing Day stalemate.
The defender stood firm to nod home in silver goal territory, restoring Athletic’s lead after Danny Lofts’ tidy spot kick negated a Donny Holdsworth opener.
A second yellow card for Joe Ferguson yet again reduced the Steelmen to ten, and even against the run of play, Danny Lofts clinched his brace to snatch the home side a cut of the spoils.
An early morning kick-off under the bright – but bitter – winter sun, travelling fans turned up in their droves in store of a thrilling festive affair.
Mason McNeill freed Donny Holdsworth for a sighter mere seconds from the get-go; the forward burst down the left flank, but failed to control his looping effort.
Boro Rangers responded to the early warning with an onslaught on Jack Norton’s goal.
The shot-stopper was forced into a sprawling save by Dan Turner, whose clever, low free kick seemed destined to rustle the bottom corner.
Dangerous advances twice forced Nathan Guru to step in, first a seeking pullback turned safely over the frame of the goal, and a weaving run contained to a futile end.
In attack, a sweeping cross from Mason McNeill gifted Isaac Walker Redcar’s second golden opportunity, as the forward’s bending effort ricocheted clear off the outside of the woodwork.
It was Donny Holdsworth who finally broke the deadlock, the forward reacting the quickest to a loose ball in the six yard area to forge the Steelmen in front come the break.
Rangers weren’t to go down without a fight, following Callum Hickman’s agonising attempt off the crossbar with a penalty kick come to return of play.
First half substitute Joe Thompson was the man accused of handball, despite a wicked deflection, and Danny Lofts stepped up to restore parity regardless.
Athletic’s misery took yet another nose dive in the aftermath, as two dubious bookings left captain Joe Ferguson on a walk for an early shower.
Ironically, the tactical changes made to account for the hole in midfield opened the game up in Redcar’s favour, as Layton Watts found more space to pull the strings in attack.
The midfielder struck a brick wall from Isaac Walker’s cutback, before freeing Oscar Fletcher for a run at goal, proving ultimately fruitless as to the efforts of shot-stopper Danny Horner.
Layton’s pinpoint delivery soon found Redcar in control once again, as Lewis Ritson rose highest to nod a dangerous corner into a well-marked net, prompting rapturous celebrations.
Still, Athletic’s unbridled joy was solemnly cut short.
A series of possible fouls lead Danny Lofts to finding space on the edge of the area, and the star forward made no mistake with his looping finish.
Rangers rode the momentum to pen Athletic into their own half in a frantic final ten minutes, prompting mixed feelings of a sort of bitter-sweet content come full time.
Line-Up: Norton, Mills, Ferguson, Boyle (Thompson 28’), Guru, Ritson, Watts, McNeill, Jarvie (Fletcher 57’), Holdsworth (Robinson 86’), Walker (Dixon 90+3’)
Next Match: Birtley Town (a) | Saturday 30th December 2023
|Northern Football League - Division 1