East Preston 2
St Francis Rgrs 1
It was Rangers who were the first side to beat East Preston last season and they were not too far away from repeating the trick on Saturday.
Certainly manager Geoff Pitcher felt a draw may have been a fairer result although home boss Dom di Paola said his side should have had the game wrapped up by half time.
EP’s 1,000th County League game against the side who were their first opponents was hardly a classic, not helped by a strong cross wind and greasy surface.
EP made all the early running as Matt Axell crossed for Liam Baitup to volley wide from six yards after just three minutes. This was a theme for the home striker as he latched onto a Marc Pullan clearance and raced through only to scuff his shot the wrong side of the post in the 14th minute.
EP did take the lead two minutes later as Mike Huckett burst from midfield and was tripped by Ben Palmer, who was a little lucky to receive only a yellow card as he was the last defender. Home skipper Joe Shelley tucked away the spot-kick confidently.
There was another Baitup miss beforethe visitors began to find their feet but were also guilty of being wasteful in front of goal. Nathan Millroy’s effort failed to test Joel Harding after a Huckett error.
EP increased their lead seven minutes into the second half as Tom Levitt’s shot came back off a post and fell for influential midfielder Shelley to notch his second goal.
Rangers boss Geoff Pitcher then made a triple change and it had a swift impact.
Dithering in the home defence was punished on 65 minutes as Charlie Pitcher beat Joel Harding from the edge of the box.
After that there was a flurry of bookings and Rangers had several chances to snatch a point, Joining Palmer in the book were Aaron Walsh, Pat Rose and Harry Farmer, along with EP’s Fred Foreman
But the home defence survived and so preserved their seven-point lead at the top of the table.
Visiting boss Pitcher said: “After their second goal I decided we’d go for it rather than sit back. I felt we had a couple of chances to snatch a draw and I think overall that would have been a fair result.
Rangers: Gordon; Barnes, Palmer, Bryant (Farmer, 55), O’Farrell, Rose, Weston, Hawkes (Butler, 55), Millroy (J Westlake, 55), C Pitcher, Walsh.