Marlborough’s 2021 football season got off to a slightly soggy start on Saturday, but there was plenty of exciting, high-scoring action on display.
Opening their Nelson division one campaign were Rangers AFC, the playing-through champions, and they made an emphatic statement at A&P Park.
Their season begins with three qualifying matches, designed to sort 16 teams into two divisions, and Rangers met FC Nelson side Karenni, a side made up of players from Myanmar, first up.
The home side prevailed 6-0, although player/coach Tore Waechter said they were under the pump in the first part of the opening stanza with the visitors employing a high-energy game.
However, Rangers soaked up the pressure and when Jono Masters landed their first goal from a Harrison Pine free kick, they settled into their job and were 3-0 up at the break. Keagan Mortimer bagged their second before Masters nailed a third.
The striker completed his hat-trick soon after the break, with goals to Waechter and substitute Adam Rose completing the scoreline.
Rangers’ player of the day was youngster Dylan Endersby whose work rate, especially in defence, was outstanding.
Pine, filling a new role as a central defensive midfielder, was also influential, along with defender Aaron Hayes, right centre back Ryan Palmer, left centre back Jordy Columbus and goalie Liam Kennedy.
Next week Rangers are back at home, against FC Nelson Locomotive, who won the other pool A game 1-0 over Wakefield.
The local division one and two competitions also kicked off on Saturday.
In a nine-goal thriller Rangers Development beat Call Care Trojans 5-4 at A&P Park.
Development went down 1-0 early on, but quickly began to dominate through strong midfield work from Jake Bezant, Callum McDonald and Joshua Clamp.
Boyd Elvy levelled the scores after 14 minutes, before goals from Logan Robb, Liam Clamp and Nikau Bell saw Development surge ahead 4-1.
Trojans pulled one back to make it 4-2, then Jay Geris bagged Development’s fifth to put the match out of reach. Two late goals to Trojans narrowed the scoreline, but Rangers had enough of a buffer.
Centre back Kane Elvy was Development’s man of the match. Trojans’ scorers were Phil Newport and Gustavo Cruz, with a brace apiece.
The other Trojans side, Call Care Hotspurs, fought out a 1-1 draw with BV Masters.
Hotspurs, a new team to the league, led their favoured rivals 1-0 at halftime through an Aaron Henderson goal, while their man of the match, stand in goalie Dillan Huxtable, kept their rivals scoreless with some remarkable stops.
Hotspurs had more chances in the second spell and were left to rue missed opportunities as Masters rallied to peg back a goal with 10 minutes left on the clock.
The third division one match saw Central Buccaneers win a club derby 3-1 against Central Wolves.
The match, at Athletic Park, saw Buccaneers take an early lead through a Tom Hall goal after five minutes. Steve McCaa levelled from the penalty spot soon after, before Buccaneers had a player sent off in the 25th minute and played the rest of the game with 10 men.
From then the match was evenly contested, both teams having missed opportunities until the latter stages when Ben Shallcross decided the issue, slotting two goals within two minutes off the left foot.
In division two, Rangers Clubs of Marlborough beat Call Care Spartans 5-1, Central Privateers and Rangers Masters drew 4-4 and Picton beat Redwood 2-1.