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Match Report  Saturday, April 14, 2001  11:01 GMT

Jigging Jennings leaves 'Gers jubilant

League fixture - Thursday 12th April 2001
Med Bar 1-2 Orton Rangers (HT:1-0)

Ryan Farrell and Simon Jennings were the heroes for Orton Rangers as their late goals snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the final moments of a thrilling game. Orton were behind in the big second versus third clash but threw everything at their opponents and were finally rewarded with what could turn out to be a crucial three points.

Rangers made one change from the side that beat nine-man PH Cardinals 6-0 in their game two days earlier as James Marrett came back with Dean Billingsley joining Craig Smyth and Stuart Taylor as substitutes.

The first period of the opening half was a tight affair with neither side playing constructive football. Gregg Marrett's crossfield ball played in left-wingback Peter Cheshire who was unlucky to see the goalkeeper make a save as he came out. Med Bar then had a good spell where they created chances and Rangers goalkeeper Alan Lynham made a good one-on-one save. Moments later though the home side went ahead with Rangers caught ball watching. Rangers then lifted themselves and finished the half much the stronger.

Chris Giles had a chance that was saved and Rangers had a strong claim for a penalty turned down when forward Brian Treanor was hauled down inside the box. Orton came mightily close to equalising after Simon Jennings was brought down on the edge of the area. Paul Thatcher strode forward and hit a fine free-kick that beat came back of the crossbar. James Marrett headed the loose ball into the path of Giles but he could only shoot straight at the keeper.

The second half continued in much the same vein. Orton went hell for leather in an attempt to salvage valuable points in the championship race. They had the lions' share of possession but could not find a breakthrough largely due to the brilliance of the home keeper. Time and time again he frustrated the Ortonions. Simon Jennings latched onto a rebound from a corner and fired a volley towards the top corner but the Med Bar custodian made a great save. Then James Marrett turned to fire in a shot but that too bought a fine diving stop out of the netminder.

Rangers kept plugging away and should have scored when Gregg Marrett's cross from the left was met by Treanor but his header was sent wide. Orton then made a change as Thatcher was sacrificed for a change in system. Dean Billingsley came on as the 'Gers went to a 4-3-1-2 with James Marrett dropping in behind. Cheshire was then unlucky with a couple of driven efforts that were blocked.

Orton looked like they were to be on the receiving end of 'one of those nights' as for all their ebullience and good play they could not find a way past the imposing keeper. Med Bar were restricted to rare attacks but almost sealed the game when they too hit the bar with a free-kick. The visitors made another change for the final ten minutes as Craig Smyth replaced James Marrett.

As the clock ticked by Med Bar looked like they were to get all three points but it would have been akin to larceny on a grand scale had they succeeded. Little did they know justice was to be served. As Orton piled men into the box defender Ryan Farrell, who had been tremendous throughout, took the ball deep into his own half. As everyone expected him to launch the ball forward he moved into the home half unchallenged. He made his way to the edge of the area before unleashing a vicious shot that swerved violently in the air and ended in the back of the net via the hand of the despairing keeper. The Rangers contingent erupted.

The visitors looked like they were going to accept the point they had salvaged and were content to keep their discipline in the final minutes. However there was to be another twist in the tale. They worked the ball into their opponents half and Cheshire's long throw earned his side a corner. As Gregg Marrett swung the ball over it was only partially cleared. It came to the feet of Simon Jennings who shaped to go one way before dragging the ball onto his left foot and stabbing a shot goalwards. Time seemed to go in slow motion as everyone watched the ball hit the inside of the post and go into the back of the net. Rangers went truly ballistic. Jennings set off in celebration as he jigged his way towards the touchline where he was engulfed in a mass of delirious players, management and supporters. The re-start lasted less than a minute before the full-time whistle went.

The finish of this pulsating game was pure Orton Rangers. They had found themselves in a sticky spot and the title looked to be slipping from their grasp. Yet they kept chipping away with every player digging in for the cause. This crucial win puts Med Bar out of the championship equation and leaves Orton fighting it out with old foes St Marys & St Johns once more. Nothing will be decided until the last weeks of the season with neither side likely to give an inch. The men from Water Orton will be massively boosted tonight though. Of course there is also the ‘little’ prospect of a rematch against Med Bar in the Rowley Cup Final. Promises to be another white-knuckle ride if Rangers have their way.

Starting Team (3-5-2): Lynham; Baird, Cheshire, Farrell, Thatcher (Billingsley), Noakes; G.Marrett (c), Giles, Jennings; Treanor, J.Marrett (Smyth)

Sub not used: Taylor

Referee:- D.Keen

Management M.O.M:- Ryan Farrell
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