Soham Town Rangers begin home campaign with defeat to neighbouring Histon in the BetVictor League North Division
You may not be able to win a game of football during the first 60 minutes but you can certainly go a long way to losing one.
Soham Town Rangers proved as much on Tuesday night when a spirited ending ultimately counted for nothing as they lost 3-2 to local rivals Histon in what was their first BetVictor League North Division home game of 2019/20.
A lacklustre first-half showing from the Greens allowed their visitors to score twice, with Ed Rolph making it 3-0 nine minutes after the restart.
Goals from Matt Allan and Sam Mulready set up a grandstand finish, but Robbie Mason’s men had ultimately left themselves too much to do.
It was a frustrating evening for the Soham boss, but as he looks to implement a new playing style at Julius Martin Lane, the message is that things will take a little bit of time to come good.
“It was a really sloppy first 10 or 15 minutes and to some degree we did not recover for the rest of the first half,” he said.
“We know what they are about, they play to their strengths. Our plan was to press high and stop that long ball out, but we did not do it enough and that played into their hands.
“This year our philosophy has changed a bit – we want to be playing good football. We do not want to be a scrappy, battling team. There is technical ability in this team and we need to be using it.
“We played some great stuff during pre-season. We earned it throughout the summer because we worked hard, but we cannot take that as a given – you have to earn it every week.
“Tonight it was too easy for them to beat us up and we have to stand up to that. It comes down to showing a bit of patience, it will happen. It is a transition for the whole club. We are trying to implement a new way.”
It took Histon – promoted last term as Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division champions – just 16 minutes to open up a two-goal advantage.
The first came courtesy of Lee Smith’s dipping free-kick from 20 yards out in the 11th minute before Max York stooped to head beyond Josh Pope in the Soham goal.
It should have been 3-0 to the away side on the half hour mark when York turned provider with a deep cross towards the back post for Evan Key, but he planted his header from close range over the crossbar.
Histon went close with another header four minutes later as Pope showed good reactions to turn away Daniel Gould’s powerful effort.
Soham actually started the second half in more positive fashion with substitute Callum Russell heading straight at Histon goalkeeper Phil Peachey and Allan firing over from inside the box.
However, they fell even further behind in the 54th minute via Rolph as he showed good composure to place a volley past Pope.
The goalscorer was lucky to stay on the pitch nine minutes later when he shoved Russell to the ground in an act of retaliation in front of the referee, who brandished yellow cards to both parties.
It was an incident that seemed to spark Soham into life and after Jake Andrews was off target with his rising shot, they got a goal back courtesy of Allan’s powerful effort from point-blank range.
Mulready and Toby Andrews both went close as Soham started to push as the night wore on and they were eventually rewarded four minutes from time.
An alert Allan pounced on a loose ball, only to be upended, and Mulready stepped up to convert the resultant spot kick for his second goal of the season.
And the home team thought the comeback was complete when Ryan Auger smartly rolled the ball home from 12 yards out in the 88th minute, but the celebrations were cut short by an offside flag.
Having started the new campaign with back-to-back defeats after losing 3-1 at Maldon & Tiptree at the weekend, Soham will switch their focus to a home FA Cup Preliminary Round tie against lower-league Biggleswade United on Saturday (3pm).
Mason said: “Saturday is massive for us. They will be the underdogs because they play at a lower level.
“They will scrap for everything and we have to adapt to it. If we can do that then our quality will hopefully come through, but first it is about stamping our authority on the game with our football.”
That is followed on Monday by a league outing away at Dereham Town (3pm).