Under-13s...

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We welcome players in year 8 for the 2018-19 school year.

 

Contact...

Andy Bruce

T) 07725 130098

E) andybruce@ntlworld.com

Training...

Days) Friday

Time) 6:00pm - 7:30pm

Venue) Eastbourne Sports Complex

Matches...

Day) Sunday

Home Ground) Eastbourne Sports Complex

League) Teesside Junior Football Alliance

Match Reports...

13/05/2018

Rangers faced the mighty Marton Blues in the final game of the season, and through injuries and absence, had to start the game with only the 9 men, including both keepers. A situation made even harder when Liam had to leave at half time, leaving us with only 8.

Hard work and determination was not enough to stop the Blues gaining a comfortable win with a demonstration of well-structured passing football to stretch us to our limits.

We had our moments and came closest in the second period; however the half volleyed finish went agonisingly wide of the empty goal after Xander got the better of the oncoming keeper.

A tough season was celebrated with some bubbly as always, and this brought about the end of an era for me in that I will no longer be coaching the lads after today. I’m delighted however that Mark and Gav are going to keep things going and I know they’ll do an excellent job.

The super Rangers today were Liam, Sam, Owen, Ollie, Jacob, Harry, Xander, George, and Luca, plus Toby, Jamie, and Scott who were all unable to be here today due to injuries and other things.

Thank you everyone for all your support over the years. I will miss coaching, but I will especially miss the boys.

29/04/2018

Rangers travelled to Golden Flatts for the penultimate game of the season and were made to fight hard for a share of the points. With conditions difficult for both sides on the long grass, chances fell equally and brought the best out of Liam in the Middleton goal, as well as the talented home keeper.

The grass made passing difficult, and the heavy pitch meant tired legs. However, Rangers looked lively going forwards.

Half time brought a stalemate and it was anyone’s game.

The second period was again a closely fought contest with Sam impressive in the Middleton goal with strong defensive support from Scott, Harry, and Jacob. Ollie and Luca caused the Flatts full backs difficulties, while Toby, Owen and Xander showed skill and strength, with George bringing lots of energy. Owen, Ollie, and Xander were all unlucky not to score before some collective indecisiveness let Flatts pick up possession outside the box and green shirt thread a precision ball to the forward who turned to finish well in the bottom right of the goal for 1-0.

It was still anyone’s game and Middleton continued to press. Following several missed chances, and excellent run by Ollie was stopped with a foul inside the box, and Ollie himself stepped up to calmly smash the penalty home for 1-1.

The last few minutes saw Ollie and Xander go close again but time ran out and the boys had to settle for honours even.

A performance filled with character and determination was unfortunate not to yield all 3 points but the home side showed equal determination and so were also good value for a share of the spoils.

No match next week (Bank Holiday weekend) but training on as usual this Friday to help us get ready for the last match of the season away at the mighty Marton Blues two weeks today.

22/04/2018

Rangers travelled to Boro Blues hoping to recreate the determination shown last week against the league leaders but 2 early goals from the home side punished a lack lustre approach to marking. On the positive side, this was enough to spur us into a more determined frame of mind and soon we were creating chances and looked right back in the game.

Our efforts were rewarded when Owen jumped on a second ball following some hard work from Ollie, Xander, and Jacob to half the deficit.

At half time it was anyone’s game but again we ran out of steam somewhat and found ourselves on the back foot, defending our goal for most of the second period. On the positive side, it was a break down in flow rather than determination and attitude and thanks to some outstanding fortitude all around, the Blues were restricted to two second half goals to finish the match 4-1 winners.

Excellent agility from Liam and Sam in the Middleton goal was rewarded with impressive statistics for both, while Owen, Toby, and Scott showed plenty of positive aggression to keep the home side’s shooting opportunities restricted.

Luca and George covered a lot of ground up and down the flanks, and Harry enjoyed a notably confident game at the back, reading the game well to keep effective positioning.

Two matches left of what has been a tough run for us. See you on Friday boys to prepare for a visit to Flatts on Sunday.

15/04/2018

Rangers travelled to top of the league Marton Whites for a daunting fixture of top v bottom, missing George, Xander, and Jamie, and had to play the match with only 8 players which included both our keepers. An uphill task if ever there was one.

Middleton put in an astonishing effort and caught the home side unaware early on when Ollie smashed home in the 18 yard box.

The home side were able to take effective advantage of our lack of numbers and stretched us before scoring twice to turn things around in their favour despite the lads’ best efforts.

Sam and Liam did a half in goal each, and a half each as lone striker and a phenomenal work rate got us to half time only narrowly trailing, and unlucky to be so after Luca forced an excellent save from the talented home keeper.

The second period saw an even bigger effort rewarded with a stalemate and Rangers unlucky not to sneak an equaliser in what was a determined collective defensive effort. The result was that the defeat felt like a victory and should provide us with the confidence we need to finish the season as strongly as possible.

The Rangers today were Liam, Sam, Owen, Scott, Luca, Toby, Ollie, and Jacob. All outstanding. Very well done boys, Mark and I are very proud of your dedication today. See you on Friday at training to prepare for our visit to Boro Rangers Blues next week.

25/03/2018

Rangers travelled to Stockton Town Yellows and were unfortunate not to come away with something from what was an entertaining end to end match. With chances at both ends, it could easily have been three a piece before Town broke the deadlock with a precision pass from the left to find the forward in the box, who gave Liam in the Middleton goal no chance.

It was a blow to Rangers and it showed moments later when the boys stood frozen whilst Town helped themselves a 2-0 lead, leaving them with a steep hill to climb. Character prevailed and that steep climb was started when Liam found Xander on the left who dribbled through the home defense before flicking the finish into the bottom left corner with the outside of his boot.

Just before the break, the deserved comeback was complete when Jamie floated a beautiful and precise cross into the box for Xander to bring under control and slam home for 2-2.

The match was a genuine opportunity to pick up our long elusive first win and the boys threw everything into trying to make that happen but ultimately, energy just ran out and Town were able to take charge and come out 4-2 winners.

The second period again saw us create chances, and with a bit of deserved luck things could have gone our way, but it wasn’t to be.

Both Sam and Liam excelled in the visiting goal while Scott, George, Harry and Jamie threw everything into defending. Toby, Owen, Luca, Jacob, Ollie, and Xander were outstanding and instrumental in a very positive performance, in a match in which we were reminded of the importance of stamina, which was ultimately to be the deciding influence.

A break from training over Easter boys and then back to prepare for the final league run in which will take us to mid-May.

25/02/2018

A cup quarter final for Middleton U12s against a Grangetown team also from the top division was a tough draw, and it turned out to be a well fought and entertaining contest, but also proved to be the end of what has been a great cup run this season for the boys.

A tight first half was end to end with some excellent saves from captain for today Liam in the home goal as well as the talented visiting goalie, and proved unable to separate the sides as Rangers continued to demonstrate significant improvement against determined opposition.

Despite missing captain Scott through injury, Middleton broke the deadlock when Jamie delivered a precision dead ball from our own half for Ollie to control brilliantly to set Xander up who finished precisely for 1-0.

Rangers looked good value for the lead but a long delay after a nasty clash of heads which saw the brave visiting forward need treatment caught us knapping and the throw in for the restart found an amber shirt in the box who turned cleverly and buried the ball in the bottom left corner for 1-1.

An excellent individual goal put the visitors ahead when their player was given the time and space to run at us from his own half and finish well despite Sam’s best efforts in the home goal. It was a shame for Sam to concede, particularly after making two decisive saves which looked like they’d keep us in the hunt.

The visiting side’s stamina showed through and they were able to kill the contest with a third when the quick forward latched onto a through ball which had left the home defence frozen to the spot for 1-3.

Tired Middleton legs kept going until the end and were unlucky not to pull one back before the final whistle went.

Lots of positives again, and the improvement continues. A bit of focus on our stamina might be the key to grabbing that elusive league win when it comes, however, we can all be pleased with the progress.

Rangers today were Sam, Liam, Toby, Jamie, Jacob, George, Harvey, Luca, Harry, Xander, Owen , and Ollie.

See you on Friday to prepare for the last home game of the season against Boro Rangers next Sunday.

18/02/2018

An entertaining match at Eastbourne finished all square and deserved smiles all round for the boys after their hard work was rewarded with a deserved last minute equaliser to round off a confidence boosting and thrilling 3-3 draw.

Rangers, wearing our new blue kit, again began positively and took an early lead after Xander tenaciously put the full back under pressure, won the ball, and found Ollie in the box who slotted home for 1-0. Golden Flatts to their credit were not put off and quickly levelled the game after some slick passing and individual skill from the talented forward.

An engaging and even game flowed back and forth until the deadlock was broken minutes before half time with deflected strike form outside the box which gave Liam no chance for 1-2.

Middleton began the second period positively but the talented visitors absorbed the pressure well. A Rangers throw deep in the visitors’ half gave away possession and Flatts reacted quickly on the break to increase their lead to 1-3 despite Sam’s best efforts in the home goal.

The urgency we lacked last week was much more prevalent this week, and the Rangers’ positive determination was rewarded when Jamie Parry beat the visiting goalie from close range to narrow the score.

With about a minute or so remaining, Middleton’s determination won a corner which was drilled with precision  by Jacob Throw into the six yard box and in off the far post for 3-3.

It was nice to see the hard graft rewarded, not to mention the positive attitude the boys have maintained throughout what has been a challenging season, and the smiles at the end of the match said it all.

Training on Friday as usual to prepare for our cup quarter final next Sunday. If we can take the belief and confidence shown today into what will be a difficult cup tie, we can grab that semi-final place against all the odds.

The super Rangers today were Liam, Sam, Owen, Scott, Xander, Toby, Luca, George, Jacob, Josh, Ollie, and Jamie.

11/02/2018

With confidence high after giving the mighty Whites a close run last week, Rangers entertained Leven in what turned out to be a narrow and entertaining match, which again left us still looking for that elusive victory despite a solid performance.

Middleton started very brightly and dominated much of the first half, however, without really troubling the talented visiting keeper as much as we should have. Playing well and enjoying a level of comfort we’ve not been used to demonstrated how far we’ve progressed, but invited a lack of the urgency and desire we’d shown last week. As a result, the visitors cleverly dictated the pace of the game to suite them, and what had looked like an opportunity to really push on and grab the points with certainty, slowly faded away into a methodical and closely fought contest.

A half time discussion reminding us of the need to want the victory more than the visitors went largely unheeded and it was to cost us cruelly. A fast break followed by a half-hearted tackle gave the visitors a rare opportunity and the striker made sure to put the visitors 1-0 up.

Rangers had opportunities to equalise and more but just lacked both the bit of luck sometimes needed, but mostly the belief and desire to make that luck happen.

Middleton played well this morning, and can be proud of the positives and the progress made. I think that players would benefit from their own reflections on why things did not go our way today as the most progress will be made when we understand the reasons we don’t always fulfil our potential. For me, I think that like in our previous encounter with Leven,  that the visitors understood just that little bit more about what was up for grabs and what would be needed to get it.

On the very positive side though, we looked confident, we played some attractive football, and only really lost out to a smash and grab. If we’d been able to match our football with the urgency and desire we showed last week, the result could easily have been different.

We go again next week. See you on Friday boys to prepare for the mighty Golden Flatts.

Rangers today were Liam, Josh, Owen, Toby, Ollie, Jacob, Luca, Jamie, George, and Scott. Missing Sam through illness so get well soon mate, Xander as away for his birthday, happy birthday mate, and Harry as he’s skiing (again lol)

05/02/2018

Rangers faced the might of Marton Whites and came away with deserved pride and confidence following a fine effort and performance from all. Middleton were lively, and although the football was often more direct than we aim for, we rattled the talented visitors with our determination to make things difficult for them.

Pressure from the lads forced errors and Rangers were enjoying periods of possession when a quick burst saw Ollie and Xander link up cleverly and Xander finish well to put the visitors on the rack at 1-0.

The resilient Whites were soon back on form and an equaliser came despite Middleton’s best efforts. Not to be down hearted, the Rangers continued to push and press and a route one with perfect precision found Luca who deftly lifted the ball over the oncoming visiting keeper to restore the lead.

The Whites were soon back on the attack and levelled before half time with a similar goal to the one they’d just conceded, and at the break it was all to play for, but with the lads naturally exhausted from their efforts.

The second period again saw some outstanding football and what could have been a couple more goals from Rangers had it not been for the outstanding saves from the talented Marton goalie. Ultimately it proved too much for us to hang on and a professional job saw the visitors run out 5-2 winners.

The Middleton boys put heart and soul into today and the result was one we can be proud of against a side that have every chance of being the league champions, and was a significant improvement on the 0-9 cup defeat earlier this campaign. Energy slowly ran out but guile and determination won through to get a result I imagine most might not have expected.

The question was ‘Can we sustain this for the whole game?’ The answer turned out to be a resounding yes. With the improved stamina which will come, we can turn this effort into results.

The Rangers today were Liam, Sam (injured but there to support), George, Scott, Jamie, Toby, Xander, Luca, Ollie, Josh, Jacob, Harry, and Owen.

Training on Friday to prepare for the visit of Leven next week.

28/01/2018

Rangers put in an energetic performance against a strong and talented Grangetown but had to settle again for no points, despite an excellent work ethic and attitude.

A fairly even first half was Middleton’s undoing as a run of bad luck and cruel lessons found us behind by four. Temperament and composure was tested to the limits and a run of slow reactions to our misfortune led to the same cruel lessons we must start to heed if we are to turn things around.

A much improved second half was enough to see Harvey deservedly on the score sheet with an excellent goal, a string of excellent saves and distribution from Sam, a lively performance from Ollie, and an all-round positive approach and attitude from everyone in the face of difficult and testing circumstances.

The result was a relatively even match looking not so much so by a 5 goal deficit. Once we address the areas we need to, we will improve. Great effort and attitude lads. See you on Friday for training to prepare for a tough game at home to the mighty Marton Whites.

Rangers today were Liam, Sam, Owen, George, Scott, Toby, Ollie, Luca, Xander, Jamie, Harvey, Josh, and Jacob.

14/01/2018

Rangers entertained the very talented Newton Aycliffe, complete with some familiar faces, for what we knew would be a difficult game, with the visitors pushing at the top end of the division.

For two thirds of the contest Middleton put in the collective performance of the season with Liam and Sam both confident in goal. Scott in the centre of defence let nothing past him while Toby and George thwarted the tricky visiting wingers to frustrate Aycliffe. Luca and Olly out wide pressured the full backs and Jacob and Xander were able to ask questions of the visitors which a little while ago would have been a real struggle for us. Owen won nearly everything in the centre, and when the visitors did break, he got back, blocking shots, winning back possession and putting Rangers back on the front foot. Jamie coming on made Middleton look even more energetic and with two thirds of the game gone we found ourselves trailing very unluckily by only one goal after Olly had finished well despite the visiting keeper’s best efforts. Furthermore, it was still anyone’s game, with us looking good, with every chance of an equaliser despite the capable visitors.

It would be unfair to say we’d been the better side, as Aycliffe were enjoying periods of possession, and it was more our grit and determination than flowing football which was keeping the contest close. However, we were frustrating them and making them work for everything, whilst creating attacking opportunities we would not too long ago not been able to carve out against such tricky opposition.

As we tired from our hard work we found ourselves defending deeper and struggling to deal with balls in the box and Aycliffe took advantage to go 3-1 up with about fifteen minutes left. Unfortunately, this signalled a collapse of epic proportions and everything the lads had worked so hard for fell apart. I can’t remember feeling so devastated for the boys than I did today in the last quarter of this game. It was nothing less than a tragedy to see all the hard work, effort, and outstanding positive belief be undone by the same problems which have blighted us throughout the season. I think it was harder to take in that it came so quickly and after such a huge collective effort which had seen us not only compete with one of the best teams in the division, but see us with a chance of potentially gaining points from such excellent opposition.

We need to remember the positives from this match and allow our efforts show us what we are capable of, and take pride in what we achieved. However, painful as it is, we must understand how we threw that effort away and learn the lesson we served ourselves in doing so. We are slowly eliminating our weaknesses from our game, and I think the huge physical and mental effort we had to put in to do so well against such a good side meant we were inevitably going to run out of steam.

We saw our two sides today, and the positive side to our game was undone by the other side which led to a scoreline which far from did our performance justice, and again demonstrated the merciless nature of football at this high level.

We continued to have our moments, forcing two more saves from the Aycliffe keeper as well as hitting the bar after two determined runs from George down the right. We could also have conceded more had it not been for the efforts of Josh and Harry.

A result that far from tells the story of the whole match, but one that again reminds us of the huge effort and concentration required of all us.

Take pride in what we achieved in the first 40 minutes and understand that we can compete, and take a lesson from what happened in the last 20 boys. See you on Friday at training to prepare for what will be a difficult visit to Marton Blues next Sunday.

08/01/2017

Rangers got the job done and comfortably progressed to the cup quarter finals despite initially making hard work for themselves against a talented and confident Richmond Blues team.

Middleton struggled to hold possession long enough to be effective in all areas apart from the back line of Toby, George , and Scott, who interacted well to limit the visitors options in the last third, breaking Richmond possession and supporting one another well. The urgency we appeared to lack came when Xander intercepted a Blues pass and was in on goal, completing the job with a precision finish. Not long after, Jacob read a visiting back pass and latched onto the ball and finishing well.

Rangers were reminded of the danger of complacency moments before half time when the strong visiting striker got himself on the end of a long ball and used his power well to create a shooting chance from little room and fired the ball home despite Liam’s best efforts in the Middleton goal.

Rangers extended the lead early in the second period after Harvey went close but had to settle for a corner instead and Toby fired home from close range. Despite looking comfortable, Middleton were again reminded that the game was not over when the visitors put together some slick passing to break down the right side. The resulting cross was watched by orange defenders and met well by the Blues forward for 3-2.

From that point on the lads seized control and one more for Jacob and three more for Xander put the match beyond the excellent visitors and ensured our progress. Sam was confident in the Middleton goal and read the Richmond through balls well to thwart any visiting advances, and also made an outstanding save from the quick Blues forward, coming out on top of a one on one dual after Middleton lost possession and reacted slowly. Olly, Luca, and Harvey were all unlucky not to get on the score sheet, and Liam made a positive impact as an outfield forward in the second half, and so the cup continues to be a welcome diversion from a tough league campaign.

10/12/2017

A tough match against quality opposition on what was the coldest match day I can recall for a long time took its toll on the Rangers who were missing a few lads through injury. Middleton started brightly and it looked as though we might compete well despite our difficulties. However, the same issues and frailties that we’ve struggled to overcome presented the talented visiting Whinny Banks lads with opportunities they were happy to grab.

We definitely had our moments today and we were able to create several good scoring opportunities which we might not have managed a few weeks ago which is encouraging. However, our hard work continues to be unrewarded due to our ongoing inability to apply what we practise in training for extended periods in our league football.

We’ll make decisive tackles and then give possession away. We’ll pass the ball well to create opportunities and then make poor decisions which again cost us possession. At times we struggle to maintain the level of desire shown by our opposition at this level, and this is all naturally frustrating for lads who are working hard to turn our season around, especially as much of our difficulties stem from us just not applying the basics of which we’re all capable when we concentrate.

Liam and Sam were both kept busy by our defending, and while Scott, Jacob, Luca, George, and Harry all made some crucial interceptions and tackles, the ongoing pressure saw us prone to the errors described above. Xander and Toby put in a good shift and were clearly frustrated at how things were going and Caden and Jamie made things difficult for the visitors and were both unlucky not to score today, as were Toby and Xander. However, too many times we fail to maintain the base level concentration required and this stops us applying what we practise, other than in isolated patches,

We’re playing at a high level and can be proud of the achievements that got us here, this has been shown when we’ve played teams one or two divisions below us and been very comfortable. The league games at this level are not going to get any easier for us so we’ll need to make a collective big effort to bridge the gaps we realistically can. Players generally play at the intensity they train, and although more of us are accepting this and making positive progress, there’s still room for a good few of us to improve in this area.

Training on Friday and away at Flatts next Sunday for the last league match before the Christmas break. We can only all improve together if we’re all there and ready.

26/11/2017

An unexpected postponement gave us an opportunity to visit our friends at Billingham Synthonia and enjoy our first 11 v 11 run out with a full squad all available. A bright start from Billingham had us on the back foot but well-structured counter put us ahead as we pounced first on the second ball after an initial save by the home keeper.

Unfortunately, a series of familiar frailties found us chasing the game with a half time mountain to climb at 4-1.

To the credit of everyone in an orange shirt we started the second period much more positively and had the home side pinned in their own half for long periods. A quick counter found us further chasing the game but character and determination put us right back in it with two quick goals to worry the talented Billingham side.

Another well-orchestrated counter wasn’t enough to knock the fight out of us and we finished a tough match strongly and with a lot of positives to help us work on our game.

Although we continue to struggle in several areas, we are making progress in others. More focus in training, along with a determination to understand our difficulties will help us improve. See you on Friday boys and next Sunday for a visit to Boro Rangers Blues.

Rangers today were Liam, Sam, Harry, Owen, Scott, Josh, Jacob, Luca, George, Xander, Harvey, Jamie, Ollie, Toby, and Caden

19/11/2017

A frank self-analysis of last week on Friday saw the boys set their own expectations of themselves for today’s game, and it really paid off in what was, for me, the best collective performance we’ve put in so far in what’s been a difficult season for us.

Town Yellows started brightly and passed the ball around the middle well, but were restricted to shots from outside the box dealt with comfortably by Liam, as Owen, Scott, and Jacob combined to close and thwart the talented visiting forwards. Luca, Xander, and Toby gave Town little time and room, and Harvey and Ollie combined well, holding the ball and interchanging quickly to create more shooting opportunities than we’ve seen in total so far this campaign. It was one such attack that enabled us to unlock the visiting defence, and for Xander to blast an unstoppable shot into the top left corner from 12 yards out for 1-0.

The break found us in control, and the boys getting a well-deserved rest from half an hour of outstanding effort all round. However, after a few changes, one or two lapses of individual concentration, and an excellent solo effort from the skilful Town forward, we found ourselves chasing the game at 1-3 despite Harry’s determination. In a fantastic show of character, Toby pulled one back for us before Stockton found the net again despite an initial save from Sam for 2-4. Again, back came Rangers when Caden fired home for 3-4, and a further demonstration of character found us pinning the Yellows in their half for extended periods. With Luca, Jamie, Caden, and Toby all unlucky not to see their efforts pay off, the match could easily have yielded points for us; however, it was not to be despite the enormous collective determination of the boys.

I’m gutted for the lads that they had to settle for pride in performance with no points to show, however, I’m proud of what we achieved today, and all the boys should be as well. It’s been a frustrating time for us as we know what we’re capable of, and must acknowledge that some of us have struggled to be at our best until now. Playing at this level is a right we’ve earned, and we’re starting to understand what will be required to compete, and showed today in an outstanding first period, followed by the character and determination to keep up the intensity despite things not going our way in the second.

Well done boys. See you on Friday.

12/11/2017

A positive and bright start and an improved collective work ethic was not enough to stop the Rangers struggling to a further defeat in what is proving to be our most challenging season ever playing at the highest level.

We had our moments when we passed the ball well as we can, and stretched the reds to create chances and test their capable keeper, but we were ultimately undone by a series of lessons that continue to go unheeded. Having errors punished with goals is a cruel way to have to learn and I felt for the boys as nearly every lapse in concentration was pounced upon and exploited by the talented Boro side.

We are improving in several areas, which is positive progress. However, we continue to either gift opportunities to opposition with the talent to capitalise nearly every time, or fail to understand and apply the team wide traits that will help see us overcome our difficulties.

It was a day when we would react positively with decisive tackles and blocks, but then give up possession cheaply to lads who were happy to take advantage. We would stretch the reds with some clever movement and passing and then go back to aimless long balls which were dealt with comfortably by the home defence. It also means that we don’t utilise the talent we have in our ranks to work as a team and create the opportunities we need to turn things around.

We certainly missed Xander’s energy in the centre, and we were unfortunate to lose Liam (who had been outstanding in goal), George, and Ollie (who had brought energy to the midfield) to injury over the game, which left Jacob having to finish the match limping. Toby and Owen put an exceptional effort and were box to box, despite Owen having to have a spell on the side lines through injury, and new signing Caden enjoyed a confident debut. Luca was involved in most of the positives as always and Jamie and Harvey had spells of being difficult for the home defenders. Sam made some crucial saves which kept the score down, supported by Jacob, Scott, and Harry in front of him.

The tough games come thick and fast, and we must maintain our resolve and confidence to approach each one with a positive and enthusiastic attitude, but also with some thought about what we collectively need to do and achieve to compete at this level.

Chins up boys. With determination it will come for us. See you Friday.

06/11/2017

A home cup tie against lower league opposition, and missing the versatile Xander Phillips, found Rangers suffering from what has become a familiar and frustrating condition to the more determined of our lads. Middleton had Owen to thank for a well taken and placed goal, and even more so Liam in the home goal to spare the potential ‘banana skin’ blushes that these kind of ties bring to those who play at the highest level as the lads from Fishburn Park played with a determination and pride that set the bar for positivity and effort that any team in the top division would have been proud to produce.

A second period of regained pride ensued which saw Sam confident in the Rangers goal and well supported by a now much more solid Harry, Jacob, and Scott. Luca and Jamie became a major thorn for the visiting full backs and it wasn’t long before Scott doubled Middleton’s lead. Goals from Harvey, Jamie, and Liam, plus another fine finish from Owen turned things around, while George enjoyed a confident display, as did Toby and Ollie, who were all unlucky not to grab at least one goal each.

The outcome was comfortable progression but it must be said that Fishburn Park could easily have had a few themselves had it not been for Sam and Liam.

Back to our tough league programme next week with a visit to Boro Rangers, hopefully with a few lessons learned as well as the right amount of confidence to kick start our league campaign. See you on Friday for training boys.

22/10/2017

Middleton went into a game against opponents who have had many of the same struggles we’ve endured, and I think that this was likely a game that both sides would have hoped to have a chance of winning and maybe kick starting their season. A close contest ensued in difficult windy conditions which made for a scrappy match. Liam in the Rangers goal was first into action as Leven took the game to us despite having the wind blowing hard against them. After a few good saves from Liam in the Middleton goal and a busy time for Scott, Owen, and Harry in the orange defence, the game developed into somewhat of a stalemate.

Toby and Xander in the Rangers midfield put in outstanding effort, and Toby in particular looked strong and confident in every aspect of his game. George put in the graft on the right and Luca was his talented self as always as we looked to use width to our advantage.

Unfortunately for us, we completely switched off for a set piece and gifted the home side what turned out to be a winning goal and despite our best efforts we failed to equalise despite coming close twice.

I think the home side shaded it and understood the potential to get a positive result and the effect that would have a little more than some of us did, and it ultimately proved to be the difference. On the plus side though, we do continue to improve in many areas, and it’s certainly true that several players are making outstanding individual progress. It was another cruel lesson in that the match was decided by something we’ve encountered before and it was those few seconds that meant the difference between a point and no points despite our improvements and progress elsewhere.

Sam in the Middleton goal in the second period looked comfortable despite battling with the wind as well as the quick Leven forwards. On another day Ollie and Harvey’s pace might have got us something from the game, but it didn’t work out that way today.

Heads up boys, it’ll come. See you Friday for training.

15/10/2017

A positive performance and effort this morning followed a similar productive training session on Friday in a game where the Rangers showed their ability to compete against the best. Middleton entertained Marton Blues and a good start found the boys competing nicely and frustrating the talented visitors. Liam was outstanding in goal whilst Scott, Owen, and Harry were disciplined and strong at the back. Xander and Toby threw themselves into the game with energy and George and Luca troubled the visiting full backs while Jacob pressured the visiting defenders with energy and enthusiasm.

The boys were enjoying their football and were unlucky to let the Blues take a two goal advantage before new signing Harvey came on for his debut.

One or two lads let the positivity wain a little early in the second period, and despite the best efforts of Sam who was also outstanding in the Middleton goal, we conceded an avoidable third which effectively saw the end of what had been our hard fought chances of getting points from the game. However, to the entire boy’s credit, this period was short lived and we were right back in it when Xander Phillips found the net at the end of a determined move through the centre.

Liam had his now customary run out in an outfield role and brought the same positive energy to that role as he had in goal in the first half. Unfortunately, a penalty and a moment of forgetfulness let the excellent visitors take further advantage before the end, but make no mistake, this was a potential turning point for us today.

Whilst we made errors which were jumped upon as will always be the case at this level and against such talented players, we made far fewer than we have been as our collective concentration was good. Furthermore, we made a talented side like Marton Blues work for the points whilst maintaining our positivity and hitting the targets we set ourselves. However, for me, the most important thing was that we all enjoyed the game and never really felt like (or let it look like) the game was beyond us or getting away from us.

See you all on Friday lads to prepare for a visit to Leven.

08/10/201 7

Rangers, without Ollie Jones through illness (get well soon Ollie) and our new signing Harvey who fingers crossed will be available next week, put in an effort to be proud of in their difficult away fixture at a strong, talented, and physical Grangetown. Positive attitudes saw the boys supporting one another with a work rate to match and were unfortunate to concede a penalty which found us undeservedly down by one.

A communication error saw us go down 2-0 before Jacob Throw hit a thunderbolt from 35 plus yards to bring us right back into a game in which we’d never looked second best. Against the run of play, two more recurring errors, again cruelly punished as they are at this level, found us with a mountain to climb at half time at 4-1.

A positive start to the second period helped us put the home side under pressure for extended periods. However, a brilliant solo effort from the talented home forward which saw him beat two men before firing into the top corner, and an unfortunate error again brutally punish found us on the wrong end of 6-1 come full time.

Today, the score did not reflect the game, and there was very little if anything between the two sides other than the recurring problems which continue to plague us which we must address. On the very positive side, we battled for the whole match and presented an attitude which will help us make the progress we need to.

Liam Mason in goal made positive communication throughout, as well as making some excellent saves, and Sam Pinnegar continued that on when he replaced Liam in the second half. Owen Harvey gave as good as he got all game and Harry Johnson did likewise as well as keeping the boys motivated with praise and encouragement. Captain Scott Kesterton met the pressure well and Luca Petch on the wing battled hard against much bigger and older lads while Toby Hall ran himself into the ground as well as making many vital challenges and being unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. Xander Phillips as always showed incredible determination, as did George Coates, and Jacob Throw, who on another day might have grabbed a hat trick.

Well done boys, an unwarranted score in an entertaining game in which there was not the gap the final tally suggests.

01/10/2017

After a collectively poor training session on Friday, dominated by immature antics, a poor attitude, and apathy, what should have been a game in which we competed well fell apart for us in the first ten minutes away at WBanks. Forgotten kit made for a bad start and reinforced the attitude which had been prevalent at training, and all hope for the match was thrown away early. A combination of a worrying unwillingness to follow instructions, outright idleness, along with the odd delusion of grandeur gifted an unassailable 3-0 lead to the home team very quickly.

The above allowed Banks to dominate all areas and made these very capable lads second best by a mile as the match panned out into a mixture of unfocussed effort, further clouded by some players hiding from responsibility, making the same errors countless times, non-existent reaction to the outright obvious, and a sometimes astonishing ability to assume that teams will not somehow take full advantage of our failings when presented gift wrapped as they were today.

The positives were that several lads worked damn hard, however, until we all accept and understand that things won’t miraculously occur in our favour if we complain long and loud enough, whilst ignoring everything we’ve learned and has been demonstrated as essential in order to compete at this level, and be prepared to work together as the team we can be (and were for the majority of last week’s game), we’ll struggle to improve.
We are capable of competing effectively at this level. We have demonstrated that. On Friday we are going to work on putting right the areas that consistently let us down, and next week is going to be better.

The result is not important, but for the record it was 9-0 and could have been a lot worse. What is important is that we understand what is required of us to improve and make progress and that we commit to doing so. Only when we understand and accept how to improve will the benefits come. Come on Friday with a positive attitude and ready to work hard. See you then boys.

24/09/2017

Rangers hosted Boro Rangers Blues in an entertaining match in which many of the positives we’ve worked towards in training were evident.

A bright first period found Middleton in control and playing some excellent passing football and pressuring the talented visitors in all areas. Outstanding effort and effective discipline allowed the boys to restrict Boro to limited possession, and lost balls were quickly closed and won back. The fruit of our labour was an early Xander Phillips goal to get us off the mark, with only a mixture of outstanding goalkeeping and our own shot shyness preventing a comfortable margin building up.

The second half found Middleton on the back foot with a distinct step down in discipline and purpose which to their credit the boys were able to change quickly after a few warnings, and realise the necessity of continued focus. As the game progressed Rangers again controlled matters and were rewarded with a second Xander Phillips goal with only more outstanding goalkeeping and what looked like a cast iron penalty appeal being waved away stopping a larger gap opening up.

Boro also had their chances but their attacks were dealt with well all round, and they were mostly restricted to relying upon powerful and accurate goal kicks to launch speedy attacks from their quick striker. With the match about to enter injury time, one such goal kick was rewarded when Middleton somehow failed to give it the necessary attention despite the numerous warnings and constant instructions, and Boro found themselves in the game with a couple of minutes to play.

Worse was to come for the Rangers when somehow we failed again to heed the warnings, learn, and react accordingly and allowed a similar equaliser much to the delight and surprise of the visitors who must be commended for their ability to play the full game with a never give up attitude.

Liam and Sam were denied their clean sheet, and if it had not been for Jacob Throw’s quick reactions to two more unheeded long goal kicks, the visitors might have found themselves with all three points.

A cruel lesson for the Middleton lads, but one that must be learned, and might just be worth it if we learn it quickly. The tears and frustration at the final whistle demonstrated the heart and desire we have, but the bottom line is we must learn to focus for the full game or we will be punished at this level. And we were punished today. We need to remember how it feels and use that memory to drive us to staying switched on until the final whistle.

On the other hand, we reacted well to our training and put a lot of things right today whilst demonstrating without doubt our ability to compete at this level. We focussed and did our jobs for 59 minutes and were cruelly punished for switching off and failing to react effectively to the clear danger.

Onwards though, and away at Whinney Banks next Sunday in a rearranged league fixture, knowing that we are capable of fulfilling our potential.

The Rangers today were Sam Pinnager, Liam Mason, Harry Johnson, Scott Kesterton, Jacob Throw, Luca Petch, George Coates, Toby Hall, Olly Jones, Owen Harvey, Callum Luck, and Xander Phillips.

17/09/2017

A home draw in the league cup against the league champions made for a tough morning for the lads in the second of two very challenging opening fixtures.

A changed formation proved to have effect in frustrating the talented visitors but took its toll on the energy and stamina of some of the boys as Middleton faced an onslaught to test character and resolve.

The outcome was an exit from the league cup but a place in the challenge cup as a consolation, which in fairness is probably a better path for our circumstances.

Rangers for the most part frustrated the Whites and absorbed the pressure, with Liam Mason on top form in goal as well. Maximum effort all round couldn’t stop the Whites as although the boys showed tremendous stamina and determination, goals were gifted to Marton through errors cruelly punished. At this level, that is the nature of the beast. However, we can look forwards in that our focus will be to reduce the mistakes that cost us goals against the high quality opposition we will face every week.

An undeserved score line of 9-0 was recorded but that was not the whole story. When broken down, five or six of those were gifted and hence cruel reward the Rangers’ efforts. Losing Callum Luck through illness at half time was a blow, as was conceding a goal after the ball was called out of play, but went unacknowledged by the official who otherwise I thought was very good. In fairness, the opposition coach called it out as a throw which the Whites and Rangers were expecting, but for some reason play continued and a goal was the outcome.

However, it cannot be argued that the best team progressed today, and so we need to use such things to motivate us into the level of focus that will see us improve and compete at this very high standard.

The last fifteen minutes brought fatigue and frustration which again are areas for us to work on and I was gutted for the lads to endure a final score that their efforts did not deserve. However, we all need to understand that effort alone won’t win games for us and train hard to improve the way we all can.

Very proud of everyone again today, and thought Liam, Scott, Owen, Toby, and Luca all demonstrated the resolve that will see us develop positively, with everyone else not far off as well.

See you Friday for training to prepare for the league visit of Boro Rangers next week.

The Rangers today were Sam Pinnager, Liam Mason, Harry Johnson, Owen Harvey, Scott Kesterton, Xander Phillips, Callum Luck, Toby Hall, Jacob Throw, Luca Petch, George Coates, and Ollie Jones.

10/09/2017

Rangers, missing the injured Toby Hall, visited an outstanding Aycliffe side newly bolstered with familiar talent developed at Middleton , and refused to lie down to a technically superior team comprised of some of Teesside’s most outstanding footballers.

Less than ideal circumstances saw us without any preseason match practice due to holiday commitments and our opponents last weekend having to pull out at the last minute, so it was always going to be a tough ask of the lads to get a result against a side that will no doubt be disappointed with anything less than top spot.

A match of mostly one way traffic was the outcome, however, the Middleton character shone through and the lads kept the score line well below the potential outcome with a never say die attitude which saw an improvement on the result last season despite the pendulum swing of talent making the move away up the 167.

At 6-0, this was a baptism of fire for the new lads, and I dare say an eye opener as to the pace and demands of the top division. The first division is exceptionally demanding, and everyone was up to the challenge. Heads never dropped despite the constant pressure and the boys showed their character regardless the added misfortune of losing the quick and talented Xander Phillips and Ollie Jones, Xander at half time, and Ollie later in the second half.

Rangers at Aycliffe today were Sam Pinnegar, Liam Mason, Luca Petch, Scott Kesterton, Owen Harvey, Callum Luck, George Coates, Jacob Throw, Ollie Jones, Harry Johnson, and Xander Phillips.

If you would like to become part of our fantastic football club as a player, manager, coach, or sponsor then

please call our chairman Les Hughes on 07834 858969 or email middletonrangersfc@gmail.com

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