North West Counties

Football League Division

One South

Ellesmere Rangers 1

Maine Road 2

RANGERS were unlucky not to snatch at least a point from their fellow league strugglers after a 2-1 defeat at home to Maine Road.

A sloppy first half performance ultimately left the hosts with too much ground to make up.

Not for the first time this season, winless Rangers did not begin to play until they were almost out of the game and they suffered the misfortunes of hitting the woodwork twice in the second half and going close with a handful of other opportunities.

It was the third from bottom Manchester visitors who started better, and Rangers defender Anwar Olugbon almost sliced the ball into his own net with a desperate clearance which keeper Richard Cowderoy pushed onto his post.

Several other chances came for the visitors who bombarded the Rangers goal, and it wasn’t long before they broke the deadlock.

After 14 minutes, Tom Keyworth took advantage of some good work by Mike Dolan down the right and bent a sweet strike into the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the box.

Cowderoy struggled to see the shot coming after his sight was impeaded by a Maine Road player who appeared to be offside, but referee Alec Ovens allowed the goal after consulting with his assistant.

Ellesmere’s hopes were dealt another blow when Olugbon had to leave the field with a recurrence of a calf injury before Cowderoy pulled off another great save.

Rangers’ attack finally spluttered into life and Gerardo Fernandez supplied a short cross for Joe Imlach to test visiting keeper Alex Fowell who got down well to push his goal-bound shot around the post.

On the stroke of half-time Rangers fell further behind from a corner which was cleared to the edge of the box for Joseph O’Brien to fire home for the visitors.

Rangers threw the game wide open when they cut the deficit within two minutes of the second half.

A free-kick was headed down for Imlach to net from eight yards out.

Soon after, substitute Aaron Davies worked an opening on the left and crossed for Imlach to head against the right-hand post.

Ellesmere stepped up the momentum and went all out for an equaliser with James Durman driving a 30-yard free-kick a foot too high.

They came even closer when Jamie Hyne rattled the left post with a powerful header which again frustratingly flew to safety.

At the other end Rangers were fortunate to survive a quick break which needed a near miraculous save from Cowderoy to keep out Mike Burke who was through on goal.

Maine Road were rattled, but successfully ran down the clock keeping the ball in safe areas to deny Rangers the point they probably deserved.

On Saturday, Ellesmere travel to mid-table Alsager Town as they continue the search for their first league win of the season (kick-off 3pm).