Cranford Rangers report in!
Delayed for 8 weeks, Cranford finally hosted Queens Park on Sunday in front of the biggest crowd of the season at Manchester Road. Queens Park, current holders and winners of the prestigious Cheshire Cup for the past 4 years have a record unmatched in the competition and were strong favourites to reach the Quarter Finals.
Cranford went with a new formation and an extra mid fielder to ensure good possession and a solid defensive structure and had the better of the play in the first half.
The midfield of Stimpson, Rebbeck, Simcock, Beattie and Smart controlled the pace of the game, but couldn’t find the final ball to break the deadlock. Ollie Jones went close, Smart was always dangerous and Simcock supported the attack at every opportunity. Chances were few for both sides, though Queens Park were always dangerous from corners and free kicks.
A deluge of rain at half time made the playing surface slick and soft.
Ollie Jones was replaced by Howard Clayton on 58 minutes.
Queens Park were strong and organised but lacked flair and fluency and the Cranford defence of Connett, Kyle Jones, Tom Birtles, Steve Jenyons and Gary Long were resilient and didn’t allow them any clear chances. Queens Park then had a 10 minute spell of pressure and on 70 minutes, Jones brought down a Queens Park forward in the box and the referee awarded a penalty, Connett in goal was having an excellent game and saved the penalty and then made two further world class saves to deny the champions. Barnhill came on for Beattie on 74 minutes and Cranford regained control again, going close through Smart and Clayton. In such a tight game, both sides were conscious of making mistakes at this stage and at 90 minutes the game finished 0-0
In the first period of extra time, Cranford pressed hard and Smart 6 yards out, forced a terrific reaction save from the Queens Park keeper after Stimpson crossed into the box. Clayton then went close and Cranford enjoyed a 5 minute spell when they did everything but score.
In the second period of extra time with 8 minutes remaining, the referee awarded a controversial free kick to Queens Park after a challenge by Jenyons some 35 yards from goal.
The free kick into the box was met with a powerful header 1-0 to Queens Park.
Cranford pressed hard for the equaliser to take it to penalties, but Queens Park held firm to continue their unbeaten run in the competition that goes back to 2006
Every Cranford player gave their all and on the balance of play, their efforts deserved a victory, but football isn’t always fair and Queens Park somehow do enough and know how to win. The big crowd and vociferous support were tremendous and urged their team on throughout the 120 minutes.
Cranford Rangers 0 – Queens Park 1 (after extra time)
Team: Connett, K. Jones, S. Jenyons, G. Long, T. Birtles, M. Stimpson, M. Simcock, M. Rebbeck (N. Deeley) S, Beattie (R. Barnhill) R. Smart, O. Jones (H. Clayton) Subs not used: G. Williams, E. Ellis
Show your support! Next Match Sunday 23rd January Manchester Road
Cranford vs Forest Road (League Cup)