Rangers win nine-goal thriller against high-fliers

2:00pm Thursday 27th March 2014

MALVERN Rangers recorded their fourth consecutive win with a thrilling 5-4 triumph over high-flying Penkridge Town in West Midlands League Division Two.

Bryan Craven rewarded Rangers' strong start with a fine effort in off the bar, which the assistant referee ruled had crossed the line.

Craven's 15th goal of the season was followed by Penkridge pressure but the hosts struck a second against the run of play on the half-hour mark.

Neil Gardiner beat two players down the right flank and crossed for Sam Rathbone to slip the ball under the advancing keeper.

Twelve minutes later, captain Anthony Smith cleverly played in a speeding Sam Harper, who left two defenders rooted and his cross rebounded kindly for him to slot home the third goal.

However, a soft free-kick let in top scorer Joe Pickering to nod in a Penkridge reply before half-time.

The visitors came out all guns blazing after the break and were rewarded in the 55th minute as Nick Wood crashed in a rebound from a free-kick.

Penkridge threw the kitchen sink at Rangers but a resilient rearguard worked hard to maintain their slender advantage.

Then, on 70 minutes, the goal of the game arrived as Paul Edwards found Craven, who squared for Sean Smith to smash home Rangers' fourth.

Pickering scored again for Penkridge but they were caught on the break when Gardiner ran clear to net a fifth.

It proved vital as Pickering completed his hat-trick with the last kick of the game after five minutes of injury-time.

Rangers, who have moved up to ninth, host mid-table Newport Town on Saturday at Malvern Vale Community Centre (3pm).

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