Mason makes mark on his return as Rangers keep FA Cup dream alive

HEADS UP: Both teams contest a corner during Saturdays FA Cup tie
HEADS UP: Both teams contest a corner during Saturdays FA Cup tie
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THE EMIRATES FA CUP

PRELIMINARY ROUND

Soham Town Rangers 4

Harrowby United 1

Robbie Mason made an instant impact on his first start of the season for Soham Town Rangers after helping them to a convincing win over Harrowby United in the Emirates FA Cup on Saturday.

Although the former Ely City striker, who missed the Greens opening two Ryman League Division One North fixtures, saw his first half opener cancelled out by Ryan Parnell, further strikes from Kieran Bailey, Billy Harris and Jordan Gent ensured that the Julius Martin Lane outfit will visit Rushall Olympic in the first qualifying round on Saturday, September 3.

“I was really disappointed with the goal we conceded,” said Rangers joint boss Robbie Nightingale. “We had complete dominance in the first half and probably should have gone in more than a goal up.

“We created a lot of chances and one thing that was missing from the previous two games is that we did not take our chances, but we could have had more today to be fair.

“We did take our foot off the brake and thought it was job done, but after a spell of 10 minutes where we needed to settle again the boys worked hard and got three more goals.

“Once we got back on the ball and started moving it quickly we looked a good team again and played some good football.”

Despite Parnell grabbing his team’s only goal of the game his tally could have been more significant had he hit the target instead of firing over the bar having been sent clean through by Calum Wilkinson inside the opening minute.

After surviving an early scare the Greens soon had their noses in front from their first meaningful effort with Mason firing home from close range when meeting Lewis McDonald’s deep throw into the box in the 13th minute.

The visitors enjoyed several openings to get back on level terms with Sean Wolley seeing his effort saved by Clarke Bogard just a minute after falling behind, while eight minutes later Wilkinson rattled the bar from the edge of the area.

With both Bailey and Darren Foxley squandering chances to double the Greens’ lead at the end of the first half they were made to pay 11 minutes into the second period when Parnell nodded home Wilkinson’s saved effort.

Good link-up play between Bailey and Foxley left Marcus Hall with the simple task of converting into an empty net to restore Soham’s lead, instead though he blazed his effort high over the bar.

The former Great Shelford player saw his blushes spared though in the 70th minute by Bailey who, after weaving his way into the box sent a shot past Craig Rhodes.

A one-goal cushion quickly became two as Harris put Rangers firmly in the driving seat when curling home a sumptuous strike from the edge of the box two minutes later.

With the game in safe keeping Greens captain Gent added a fourth for good measure when heading home Bailey’s corner at the far post four minutes from time despite protests from the visitors claiming the ball was handled in the build up.

Rangers will return to Division One North action on Saturday when they take on Maldon and Tiptree at Park Drive (3pm).

The Greens will then host Ryman League new boys Norwich United on Bank Holiday Monday (3pm).

Soham Town Rangers: Bogard, Harris, McDonald, Horne (Swinton 70), Gent, Groves, Hall, Paterson, Mason (Relizani 82), Bailey, Foxley. Subs not used: White, Gardner, Chambers-Shaw. Attendance: 123.

Journal Man of the Match: Robbie Mason-claimed a goal and caused problems all afternoon in the final third.