CARLOS ON THE SPOT
Below par Blues snatch a win writes The Mariner
Blues recorded a narrow win at basement boys Soham Town Rangers - extending their unbeaten league run to five games moving them into the play off places for the first time this season. The game itself was a dour affair lacking in quality throughout the 90 minutes with little to entertain the supporters of both teams. Blues grabbed the three points when they were awarded a penalty after Joao Carlos was adjudged to have been brought down in the area - the referee pointing to the spot after some lengthy deliberation. It was to be the only incident of note in a game littered with misplaced passes, stoppages for injury but for Blues it was another win on the road and consolidated their league position.
A scrappy opening ten minutes was the forerunner of what was to follow - only a half chance for Aron Gordon when he forced Josh Pope into a fine save turning the ball behind provided any excitement. Blues just shaded the opening exchanges forcing Rangers on to the back foot without creating a clear cut opening.
Rangers unsettled the Blues back line when a searching cross was only half cleared and then a corner caused Lloyd Anderson problems forcing him to fist the ball away only to find Ryan Auger who fired over . Gordon was the recipient of Blues best chance when a Michael Toner cross was half cleared, the Blues winger failing to hit the target from close range.
The game became increasingly disjointed, passes went astray, challenges were mistimed with little to excite supporters. Suddenly out of nowhere Rangers came close to breaking the deadlock when Rob Mason was allowed too much space - taking advantage his shot hit the inside of the post rolled along the line finally scrambled clear. Blues replied quickly when Pope failed to collect the ball cleanly, it dropped on to the head of Toner who nodded over from five yards. The brief moment of action brought to an end a turgid first forty-five minutes.
The second period saw Blues at last show signs of urgency, they established a measure of control managing to build with more guile and skill allowing them to push Rangers back. Mitchel Hahn came close when he latched onto a half clearance - seeing his shot take a deflection forcing Pope into a scrambled save.
Under pressure Rangers conceded a succession of free kicks and corners which led to Blues opening the scoring. In the 51st minute Blues were awarded a free kick midway in the Rangers half, Barry Cogan floated the ball into the box where Dennis Oli using all his experience ghosted in and glanced the ball over Pope.
Two minutes later and the scores were level - Blues recurring problem defending a lead once again being their downfall. The long throws of Calum Russell had caused problems all afternoon - another throw was punched clear by Anderson - straight to Auger who drilled ball the into the far corner. The goal lifted Rangers and for a time they looked likely to prise open Blues defence for a second time, fortunately the threat dissipated and Blues reestablished control.
Carlos and Oli were working well together down the right flank with some deft footwork forcing Rangers into some questionable challenges and in the 71st minute one challenge too many led to a penalty when Carlos was brought down. After a waving away the hosts protests the referee pointed to the spot where Carlos continued his rich goalscoring form sending Pope the wrong way.
The closing stages saw Rangers come close to an equaliser when Michael Baulk hooked his shot over Anderson and over via the crossbar. Blues rode out the late Rangers rally to hold on to their lead and secure the points in a game that failed to spark from the first whistle.
Anderson, Mahal, Okonkwo, Finneran, Toner, Cogan (Curtis 69), Muguo, Hahn, Gordon ( Mignot 89), Barnwell ( Oli 45), Carlos
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