Monday, 3 July 2017

Winterton Rangers 0 v Gainsborough Trinity 1 - PSF

Monday 3rd July 2017
Pre season friendly
at West Street, Winterton
Winterton Rangers (0) 0
Gainsborough Trinity (1) 1
Alex Simmons 28
Admission £4. Programme £1.50 (covering 5 games)
Not so many years ago, tonight's host club enjoyed a purple patch between the 2005/06 and 2011/12 seasons, when they never finished outside the top six clubs in the NCEL and were actually crowned champions in 2008 and runners up in 2007.
But since those halcyon days, having had a lean time of things and a run of bad luck for four seasons, during which time a dramatic turnaround in fortunes saw Rangers perpetually involved in relegation battles, from either the NCEL Premier and First Divisions, during which time they actually took the drop from one to another at the end of the 2013/14 term, Winterton steadied their ship and stabilised their decline with a mid table finish in April, when they finished their most recent campaign with three wins from their last four games.
Given the calibre of players that the West Street based club have been signing of late, with Paul Grimes and Rob Watson recruiting astutely of late, one can only assume that they will be closer to the business end of the table this coming season, than the scrap to avoid the drop to a step 7 league.
And on the evidence of this performance, they are poised to build on the foundations of their last campaign, any time soon.
Tonight was also the first opportunity for the travelling Gainsborough contingent to get a look at former Spalding United manager's Dave Frecklington's new charges, as he strengthens his Trinity squad to make a challenge in an ever more competitive (and in some cases: ever more money driven) National League North.
One of his 'newbies', Alex Simmons, who was released by Lincoln City at the end of last term, weighed in with the only goal of this well contested friendly match in the twenty eighth minute, after the home side's defence had made hard work of clearing Johno Williams free kick into their area from out on the right flank.
Alex Simmons forces the ball home from close range
despite the close attentions of Jack Weatherell
Prior to Simmons strike, Rangers had looked strong in defence as the visitors put them under the cosh from a string of corner kicks, while Luke Anderson, Lewis Bemrose and Elliott Broughton, combined well in attack for the home side to keep Trinity's back line busy, where another debutant Nathan Stainfield looked strong in defence for the visitors. 
In actual fact had, any Rangers player have managed the slightest of touches on one defence splitting ball across the face of the visitors goal around the quarter of a hour mark, then Winterton would have taken the lead instead.
It wouldn't have surprised anybody who had seen him turn out for Lincoln City's U18s and Rainworth Miners Welfare's first team last season, to hear that Jack Weatherell looked very comfortable at centre half for Rangers during his forty five minute stint before the break, not only with his assured touch, but also his positional awareness. That said, he did mistime a clumsy challenge in the middle of the park,  just before half time, that had the Trinity bench up in arms in protest. Obviously at just 18 years of age, Weatherell is still not quite the finished article, but is learning and developing quickly and will benefit in the long run from such 'awkward' moments.
Of course, last season Weatherell was plying his trade for the Imps youngsters in front of goalkeeper Richard Walton, who had the first taste of action of his twelve month loan for Gainsborough tonight.
When the anticipated half time substitutions were made, it further illustrated the strength in depth of the Rangers squad, that they had players of the likes of Bruno Holden, Reece Newell, Joel Shortland and Robbie Start to bring on from the bench. 
Oh, and Paul Grimes... of course!
Both clubs will have been pleased with tonight's work out in front of what was a decent turn out for a Monday night warm up game, a whole month before the season actually starts.
I saw plenty to suggest that it will be worth revisiting both of these teams to see how they are progressing over the forthcoming months.
That said, I think that I might have to contact Hawker Siddeley Ltd about getting some vertical take off gear attached to my car, so that I can get out of the bijou car park at West Street without having to make another nine point turn, like the one I executed like a pro tonight.
Ta very much to Mr Martin Girdham, for the obscure programmes he had set aside for my visit.
I enjoyed catching up with a lot of familiar faces from both Lincolnshire clubs... and in spite of appearances, my missus really enjoyed her night out in Winterton too.
FT: Winterton Rangers 0 v Gainsborough Trinity 1