Archive for Grendon Rangers Football Club

SSMFL Division Two fixtures released for August & September

SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE DIV 2

The Spartan South Midlands Football League have released the first two months of fixtures for Division Two teams, although at this stage these games are subject to change.

AUGUST FIXTURES

 

Saturday 3rd August – Kick Off 3.00pm

DIVISION TWO

Aston Clinton v MK Gallacticos

 

Saturday 10th August – Kick Off 3.00pm

DIVISION TWO

Aston Clinton v Old Bradwell United

Sarratt v New Bradwell St Peter

Totternhoe v Codicote

Tring Corinthians v MK Gallacticos

 

Saturday 17th August – Kick Off 3.00pm

DIVISION TWO

Sarratt v Berkhamsted Raiders

Tring Corinthians v Aston Clinton

Unite MK v Old Bradwell United

 

Tuesday 20th August – Kick Off 7.45pm unless stated

LEAGUE CHALLENGE TROPHY First Round

Aylesbury Vale Dynamos v Codicote

Colney Heath v Sarratt

Edgware Town v Pitstone & Ivinghoe

Leverstock Green v New Bradwell St Peter

 

Wednesday 21st August – Kick Off 7.45pm unless stated

LEAGUE CHALLENGE TROPHY First Round

New Salamis v Berkhamsted Raiders

Unite MK v Ampthill Town

 

Saturday 24th August – Kick Off 3.00pm

LEAGUE CHALLENGE TROPHY First Round

Mursley United v Park View

Tring Corinthians v Old Bradwell United

 

DIVISION TWO

Aston Clinton v New Bradwell St Peter

Bovingdon v Berkhamsted Raiders

Pitstone & Ivinghoe v Sarratt

The 61FC (Luton) v Codicote

Totternhoe v MK Gallacticos

 

Saturday 31st August – Kick Off 3.00pm

THE BUILDABASE FA VASE First Round Qualifying

Holyport v Unite MK

New Salamis v Codicote

 

DIVISION TWO

Mursley United v Totternhoe

Pitstone & Ivinghoe v New Bradwell St Peter

Sarratt v The 61FC (Luton)

Tring Corinthians v Berkhamsted Raiders

 

SEPTEMBER FIXTURES

(Note: Subject to change once County Cup draws are known)

 

Saturday 7th September – Kick Off 3.00pm

LEAGUE CHALLENGE TROPHY First Round

MK Gallacticos v Langford

 

DIVISION TWO

Bovingdon v Pitstone & Ivinghoe

Codicote v Aston Clinton

Old Bradwell United v The 61FC (Luton)

Sarratt v Buckingham United

Tring Corinthians v Grendon Rangers

Unite MK v New Bradwell St Peter

 

Tuesday 10th September – Kick Off 7.45pm unless stated

LEAGUE CHALLENGE TROPHY First Round

Amersham Town v Grendon Rangers (Kick Off 7.30pm)

Harefield United v Buckingham United

 

Saturday 14th September – Kick Off 3.00pm

THE BUILDABASE FA VASE Second Round Qualifying

New Salamis or Codicote v Tower Hamlets

Wellingborough Town or Wellingborough Whitworth v Holyport or Unite MK

 

PREMIER DIVISION

Biggleswade United v Tring Athletic

 

DIVISION TWO

Buckingham United v Codicote (Subject to FA Vase)

Grendon Rangers v Sarratt

MK Gallacticos v Old Bradwell United

Mursley United v Berkhamsted Raiders

New Bradwell St Peter v Tring Corinthians

Pitstone & Ivinghoe v Unite MK (Subject to FA Vase)

The 61FC (Luton) v Aston Clinton

Totternhoe v Bovingdon

 

Saturday 21st September – Kick Off 3.00pm

LEAGUE CHALLENGE TROPHY First Round

Aston Clinton v Bovingdon

 

DIVISION TWO

Berkhamsted Raiders v Grendon Rangers

Codicote v Unite MK

Sarratt v Totternhoe

Tring Corinthians v Buckingham United

SSMFL D2; Meet the new Grendon Rangers FC manager + his plans for the season ahead

Grendon Rangers Football Club are pleased to announce the appointment of John Kowalyk as their new first team manager for the coming season, with the new season in the Spartan South Midlands Football League looming pre-season training begins on Tuesday 9th July at 7.00pm, with old & new players welcome, thereafter every Tuesday & Thursday evening at the same time.

John Kowalyk

The club are also looking for a physio for matchdays & maybe training sessions also, a new trainee or experienced individual is invited to apply, details listed at the bottom of this post.

This week Sports Shots caught up with the new man in charge to find out his first thoughts on getting the job:

After a season and a half out of football it was good to be offered this post. I have never managed in the Spartan South Midlands and so I’m looking forward to this exciting challenge

What were his thoughts after meeting the club?

Having met the committee and Chairman I was impressed by their level of commitment, and willing for the club to strive to improve. They are a village with big ambitions

What is John Kowalyk’s previous football career to date?

I have played and managed at semi pro level at step five & six and have won several titles at step seven. Also, the pinnacle of my career was reaching the Norfolk Senior County cup final with a step seven side & beating step five and six teams on route to that final

What is the immediate plan now for the summer months ahead of the season, and what additional staff does the club require?

Since confirmation of my position I have been working to attract a few of my network who have played at Hellenic Division One who will offer some experience to the team. We are finalising coaching staff now but are looking for a physio for match days and training sessions. If anyone is interested, please see contact details below

Does he have any experience of the South Midlands and what does he expect from it this season?

I’ve never played or managed in the South Midlands but know several of my ex-players have done at Premier Division level so know the quality required. It’s a league full of top named clubs and I do know it has a reputation of being organised and run very well. This will be a new challenge for me which I am looking forward to

John Kowalyk footballing career (click on image for larger view)

What are the targets for the new season?

The previous manager took the side to seventh last season which is the highest position the club has attained so I will be striving to improve the players, the team, the club and our future ambitions

In terms of players, how many can the club retain and furthermore how many can they bring in?

Having spoken and met with key senior players at the club I know the nucleolus of last season’s squad is looking to re-sign. Together with players I hope to bring to the club, I feel we should be in a good position of strength this season

What best describes the way John manages, and how would he describe the way he likes his teams to play?

Style of managing is a personal thing and having been involved in around two thousand career games, & having played under ex professionals and managed them too, I have learnt and developed my way of getting the most out of players and hopefully improve them technically, from an organisational perspective and awareness to the game

Any messages for the people of Grendon & the surrounding area, and any prospective players looking for a club?

What I can say is that I welcome any new or old players to Grendon where I can assure you of a fun filled but serious assault on a title challenge. Players who are looking to make a step up or drop a level then Grendon Rangers FC will be a club where you can find a home and enjoy your football. And to be honest that’s why we love and play the game!

Anyone wishing to make contact regarding playing or the physio role should contact John either by email on johnkowalyk@yahoo.co.uk or phone on 07500 831671

Sports Shots would like to thank John for his time this week

Grendon Rangers FC celebrate 70 years of football + 25 years since Orlando (USA) Cup ’94 success

25.05.2019

Grendon Rangers FC held an open day on Saturday as they celebrated seventy years of uninterrupted football at the club, and to also mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of their under sixteens trip to Orlando back in 1994 when invited to play in a tournament which they duly brought silverware back from, along with a sack full of memories to their small dwelling in Buckinghamshire.

The village hall was open all afternoon attracting players & friends old & new whilst the evening offered a sit down dinner along with comedian and disco, tables full of memorabilia were laid out that offered programmes, shirts, newsletters, badges, trophies and much more for those in attendance to peruse and stir up memories of years gone by.

One of those under sixteen players is still at the club having just completed another season which saw Rangers finish in their highest ever Spartan South Midlands position, with the most points ever gained also, not many non-league players start at junior level and still play for the same club some quarter of a century later!

Known affectionately by his friends & team mates as ‘Sarge’, Stuart Leonard took time out from the celebrations to speak to Sports Shots to reflect on his time at the club, the trip to the USA as a youngster and also managed to pick a one to eleven of the best players he’s seen at the club although put on the spot he later admitted he’d missed a few others out including Paul Newman at centre back and Gary Hankers up front as two definite starters, click on the link below to listen in:

For images of the memorabilia laid out please click here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmDSkVDX

 

Please Note: If you use any of our material or images, please ensure you credit sportsshots.org.uk

Grendon Rangers seek new first team manager

Grendon Rangers have confirmed the departure of first team manager Steve Jackman, and now invite applications for his successor to contact the club as soon as possible.

Leading the club to a seventh place finish last season in the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division Two which ended with a season finale of one defeat in their last seven games leaves a firm platform for the club to push on, and all applicants are welcome to contact the chairman directly as their twitter feed explains:

We regret to announce that 1st team manager Steve Jackman has stepped down. Thanks to Steve for his hard work, dedication and knowledge which achieved our highest finish in SSML Div2 in 2019. We wish Steve and Bianca all the very best with the upcoming birth of their 1st child.

GRFC are inviting applicants for 1st team manager for the 19-20 season. Step 7 football, newly formed reserve team and thriving youth section. Excellent pitch/facilities, hospitality and committee. Please call chairman Paul Jackman to enquire on 07733276479 or DM this page

The Grendon Rangers twitter page can be found here: https://twitter.com/Grendon_Rangers

SSMFL D2; Mursley United 4-2 Grendon Rangers

Mursley United – 4
Grendon Rangers – 2

06.04.2019

Mursley United took the three points off local rivals Grendon Rangers on Saturday despite being reduced to ten men before half time when Jamie Green was booked twice for fouls on the same player, with the scores at the time level United took the game to their guests despite the imbalance & gained the lead ahead of the break, Tom Brazier then grabbed his second and his sides third late on, Rangers pulled a late goal back to give them hope however once their goalkeeper James Cox was dismissed for his second yellow of the afternoon for an alleged handball outside his area, a late clincher settled the game once and for all. For Grendon it brought an end to their recent fine run of form, this defeat their first in seven as their season came to an end, they now await both Mursley & MK Gallacticos to complete their final fixtures to learn their final Spartan South Midlands Football League Division Two position.

The hosts took the lead in the fourth minute when a clearance came just perfect to Luke Williamson for him to hit first time on the volley and his left footed drive dipped over the reach of Cox into the far corner, in the tenth minute a promising attack for the visitor’s saw Mohammed Adam fly down the touchline until a challenge from Green brought him down earning him a yellow card in the process, the free kick headed back out to Adam whose thumping effort was charged down before being cleared to safety. Nathan Skelton was next to try his luck after collecting a pass in midfield and driving at goal, a great tussle with his marker ended with the striker lifting over the crossbar, at the opposite end a corner curled in got the faintest of glances off the head of Adam to sail wide.

Tom Marshall fires Grendon level in first half

Brazier got his boot warmed up with a drive from the edge of the penalty arc which Cox had to use both hands to push away, Grendon went close when Dan Ciuica curled inches wide from the angle, and a diagonal pass into the box from Brazier saw Austin Dickson threaten until some great defending from skipper Jason Riddell saw a last gasp flick out for a corner. With ten minutes of the half remaining the visitor’s equalised when a free kick deep in their own half was sent downfield by Cox, little danger appeared as home shot stopper Dan Willett came out to collect however the ball escaped his grip allowing Tom Marshall to nip in and tuck into the empty net, then just six minutes later it all looked rosy for the away side when a second foul on Adam by Green saw him receive his second caution of the contest and sent for an early shower.

Despite the numerical advantage it was the home side who looked the more dangerous when Skelton again got in behind the amber backline until Rangers stalwart Stuart Leonard came sliding in to take the ball off his feet, Brazier had a run into the box from out wide until he ran straight into Leonard who simply stood strong to gain possession & clear, then against the odds the hosts regained their lead when a free kick lifted into the area was flicked away by Ricky Brown but only as far as Brazier, as Cox had committed himself to the cross the midfielder simply fired into the unguarded net. H/T: 2-1

Brazier almost started the second period as he ended the first as he drove at the heart of the Grendon defence before firing high over the top, Skelton explored some space down the right but could only shoot straight at Cox and his next effort saw him with back to goal & Leonard for company but he managed to shirk off the defenders attention ahead of turning & thumping wide. Mursley extended their lead even further on seventy-four minutes when a ball between the away backline had that defence calling for offside which wasn’t given and Brazier skipped through to evade the oncoming Cox to slot home, the protests to the referee earning Leonard a booking on his final game for his club before hanging up his boots.

Tom Brazier scores to increase Mursley lead to 3-1

The away side huffed & puffed looking for a way back into the game, Joe Walls floated in a free kick that Andrew Hind managed to beat everyone to but he could only head over the top, a cross from the left for the home side then saw substitute Jack Bradford blaze high over the bar, then with six minutes to go Grendon did pull another goal back when a free kick into the area was deflected to Marshall on the edge of the six-yard box, he turned to fire inside the far post and again many protests for offside were waved away by the officials to set up a possible grand stand finish.

That optimism was somewhat squashed less than two minutes later when a long lump downfield by the home side saw Cox advance and the ball flicked up, the assistant on that far side called the referee over and after a quick consultation the Grendon custodian was shown a second yellow and subsequent red, Leonard donned the gloves as his replacement. Nathan Hawkins took the free kick that spiralled off the wall for a corner, but in the final minute the game was put to bed finally when a cross found Ryan Lee who from fifteen yards fired past the reach of Leonard albeit with a slight deflection off a defender. F/T: 4-2

Attendance: 44

Please Note: If you use any of our material or images, please ensure you credit sportsshots.org.uk

After the game Sports Shots caught up with Mursley manager Jamie Lands:
And also Grendon boss Steven Jackman:

For 2 pages of matchday photography (142 images) please click here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskQketR8

SSMFL D2; Grendon duo hoping Hind sight can prove to be a Thorn in Mursley side

Saturday 6th April 2019
Mursley United v Grendon Rangers
Spartan South Midlands Division Two
The Playing Field
K.O. 3.00pm

Grendon Rangers complete their season on Saturday at Mursley United, although some in their camp would hope it continue as they arrive at their local rivals on a sequence of just one defeat in their last eight games, undefeated in six with just a single draw has propelled Steve Jackman’s men up the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division Two table into sixth place, which just a few weeks ago seemed a long way away after weeks of flirting with the lower echelons of that division. Victory over Mursley would see Rangers finish in sixth place no matter what, a final day defeat could leave them prone to attack from both Mursley & MK Gallacticos, United haven’t won at home since the first day of December although they have only played twice since then, and Jamie Lands’ men will be looking for revenge for the odd goal in seven defeat they suffered at Grendon back in August.

Andrew Hind

This week Sports Shots caught up with Grendon defender Paul Thornton but first of all we asked Andrew Hind how long he’s been at the club and how it all came about:

I signed in the second half of last season and only played three or four matches. I was far from match fit though, I came over after a brief spell down the Ath (Buckingham Athletic) and Larry Woodward had given my details to PJ (Paul Jackman). I was ready to hang up the boots at the time and had work commitments so settling in to the football side of things was a bit rough. The lads are top notch though, so that side of things was pretty seamless

Paul has been at the club a while:

I have been at Grendon since the under fourteens on and off I think, it’s been a long time that’s for sure. So with regards to settling in and signing on that hasn’t really been relevant, it’s always felt like home

How does Paul feel he has contributed this season in terms of fitness and performances?

I’ve been lucky not to miss any games due to injury this season but my availability hasn’t been what I’d have liked, work and children have had to take priority unfortunately. Performances and contributions? You’ll have to ask Blocky

Andrew is confident he has benefited the side this season:

I’d like to think I’ve been pretty consistent this season, I worked hard in pre-season to get a good base fitness and from there I’ve let my performances do the talking. I changed jobs in June last year and my new role allowed me to be more committed so availability has been pretty good. Being one of the older heads in the team, I’d like to think I contribute a bit of experience to the team

How strong does Andrew feel the squad is now, and which players have impressed?

With a lot of new players added to the squad we started a bit shaky; we always knew we had quality so it was just a matter of time before the performances started to come. In particular I would say Tom Marshall has impressed, he’s always dangerous on the ball and is a game changer. Will Young has also been a revelation, both players could do the job at a higher level

Paul Thornton

Paul is very impressed with the current squad:

Since joining the South Mids I think it’s the strongest it’s ever been. It shows that with key players like Matt Ginger out long term the results have still been pretty good, especially of late. This is also down to management getting the best out of the players

Where does Paul see is best position in the side, and what formation best suits?

Steven did try me up front for a bit at the start of the season but I think he quickly realised playing me at the back is where I’m at my best. Formation wise I think we have shuffled numerous times this season, I don’t have a favourite one, if you’d have asked at the start of the season I was a four-four-two man but recently playing in a back three and getting results has changed my mind

Andrew has also been moving down the pitch as the season wore on:

If you’d asked me at the start of the season I would have said up top or out on the wing, but the years haven’t been kind to my pace. I’ve taken the role in CDM (central defensive midfield) and have really enjoyed it, Blocky gave me his expectations and I’d like to think I live up to them. I’m probably most effective when we play a diamond in midfield, I like tidying up for some of the more offensive minded players

We asked Andrew to try and explain how Rangers have turned their fortunes around in the past few weeks:

As I mentioned earlier, we always had the quality in the squad but as a lot of us hadn’t played together before we weren’t going to gel straight away. As the season has gone on, we’ve learned how each other play and really started working for each other, everyone is clear about what is expected from them and that always makes it easier to execute the system. Obviously having Blocky in charge and to have him keep drumming it in to our heads every week has helped, he was a major part of me continuing to play

Paul has only recently seen the new found confidence:

Our recent form has been pretty impressive lately but I have only been involved in the last two wins and from what I’ve seen there’s a new level of confidence and a bit more of a buzz. However, Steven, Scott and Alan are continually reiterating the fact there is still a vast amount of improvement required and for anyone to rest on their laurels would be a huge mistake. I think this sort of approach helps lads stay focused and not get carried away

How has Paul found playing this season under Steven Jackman and the coaching staff?

As I’ve said I’ve been in and out due to availability, the season as a whole has been fantastic though with this run at the end topping it off, there’s still one game left though so we need to finish it off with a win. From my perspective being with Grendon through those dark days of wining two games a year and being second from bottom all season, this has been the best season in a long while

Andrew puts the recent successes down to the manager:

I think the first half of the season was a bit frustrating as I knew we had the quality and some of the results didn’t reflect on us as a team. Blocky told us in January that we’d dropped fifteen points to teams below us which was a massive eye opener. The second half has been massively enjoyable and playing for someone with the experience Blocky has is what the team needed, I’ve known Blocky since my younger days, so I knew what to expect from him and it’s been really enjoyable. I looked at the recent form table the other day and it had us second behind Bovingdon, which goes to show what we can do as a team now that we’ve all bought in to Blocky’s system

Last game of the season this week at Mursley, what does Andrew remember of that seven goal thriller back in August, and what is he expecting this time round?

Against Mursley, from what I remember, we showcased what we can do going forward but defensively we lacked concentration and commitment. It was a fun match though and I think that was my first game at CDM. There are no easy games in football, so we go in to this weekend with the same mentality of work rate and discipline, if we work hard and execute the game plan then there’s no reason we can’t finish the season on an absolute high

Paul will be preparing the same as any other game:

I don’t know any of their players I don’t think. Preparations for the game will be just like any other game. The boss may come up with a light bulb moment on the day and switch something up but as of now I’m sure all preparations will be as normal

Finally, we asked Paul if he could pick any team mate to go on any TV programme, who & what would he choose?

I would choose Will Young; the bloke is a fruit loop and never ceases to make me laugh. He’s a genius too, he actually has his own massive online following, Lambing Live I think it’s called. Take a look!

Andrew would take his luck with Dan Ciuica:

I’d love to go on Hunted with Dani, a sneaky Romanian and a sneaky Asian escaping as fugitives from the UK makes for brilliant TV. There’s no way we’re getting caught!

Sports Shots would like to thank both Paul & Andrew for their time this week

SSMFL D2; Mursley defender rediscovering his mo-Jo after long footballing absence

Saturday 6th April 2019

Mursley United v Grendon Rangers

Spartan South Midlands Division Two

Station Road

K.O. 3.00pm

Mursley United host Grendon Rangers on Saturday in an intriguing fixture that see’s the hosts having to win if they are to finish the season higher in the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division Two table than their Buckinghamshire rivals, Rangers complete their campaign on Saturday on the back of a superb recent run of form which has seen them draw five and draw once in their last six games. If Mursley do not collect the three points on Saturday then they cannot catch their guests even with a further two games yet to play but will be buoyed after a good win last week at New Bradwell St Peter by four goals to nil where front man Nathan Skelton reached thirty goals for the season. Jamie Lands’ men haven’t won at home since the first day of December, albeit having only played twice since then, and will also be keen to revenge the defeat they suffered at Grendon back in August where they lost by the odd goal in seven, their remaining two games are also at home but against two of the top four sides in the league.

Michael Joseph

This week Sports Shots caught up with Mursley centre half Michael Joseph to ask how long he’s been at the club and how he’s found it since joining:

I joined the club at the start of the season through Nathan Skelton, we currently work together so after a kick about at work he asked me to come down to get me out of retirement. I came down to a pre-season friendly and liked the set-up of the club, the organisation from the chairman through to the physio was evident and easy to get involved in. I also liked the importance coaches were putting on the playing style of the club, encouraging free flowing pass & move football

How good a season does he feel he has had?

This season has been a bit of a tricky one only because it is my first season back in proper football for a good nine years. I am a very harsh critic of myself so comparing myself to all those years ago I always feel I can do and offer much more

How good is this current squad, and which players have impressed?

This season I think we have a decent squad; I always go into games believing we can harm the opposition and pose a real threat. Ryan (Lee) and top man (Nathan) Skelton have impressed me this season; Ryan’s ability to keep the ball in tight situations and Nathans eye for goal have helped the team in many games this season

What does Michael see as his best position in the side, and what formation best suits?

I’m a ball playing centre back so I like to play in a three at the back, however football has changed a lot since I used to play and a lot more teams are using the three-four-three formation. When that is the case I prefer to play four-four-two so I can shadow the number nine

Looking back over the season, how enjoyable has it been playing under Anthony and Jamie Lands?

Lot of ups and downs which is pretty much what a season is about. Both Ant and Jamie have always encouraged us to play football regardless of the situation, not changing the philosophy of the club and as a player that’s pretty much all you can ask for

We asked Michael how the last three games have been for Mursley:

We are upset with the results lately to be honest, the loss to Bovingdon hurt the most for me because I felt the first goal was preventable on my behalf. Totternhoe, we had a very dubious decision go against us just before half time which I believe would have changed the game. And New Bradwell was a bit of a bitter sweet moment because we only managed a draw at home, so beating them away for me was only balancing the negative from the away draw

Onto Grendon this week, what is the defender expecting?

This game will be an interesting one for me as I have never played against them. I know they are a physical and well organised side so we will also need to be organised and ready to adapt our game if necessary

Finally, we asked Michael if he could pick any team mate to go on any TV programme who & what would he choose?

It would have to be SAS Who Dares Wins on Channel Four with James Wardell. I would love to see how long he would last in the selection process lol

Sports Shots would like to thank Michael for his time this week

SSMFL D2: Adam strike takes Grendon Rangers up to seventh

Grendon Rangers are up to seventh in the Spartan South Midlands League, Division 2 table.

Mohammed Adam

Mohammed Adam’s strike gave Rangers a 1-0 win at Sarratt.

SSMFL D2; Grendon Rangers 1-1 Aston Clinton

Grendon Rangers – 1
Aston Clinton – 1

The contrasting faces that came off the playing fields at Grendon on Saturday told two separate stories, the home side Rangers delighted to have held third placed & double cup finalists Aston Clinton to a draw whilst the visitors were left fuming after a second half that saw them denied what they saw as a perfectly good goal and two penalty decisions go against them that had assistant manager Jack Seaton in no doubt they should have won the game. A strong cross field wind made conditions difficult for both sides but Grendon took the lead through Sol Janecki and they were looking good to get to half time with that advantage, however a late first half free kick from Alex Smith caught the wind and eluded the reach of James Cox in the home nets to nestle inside the far post to level matters, after the break Clinton did everything but score despite being reduced to ten men, rattling the woodwork twinned with those decisions they felt the officials got wrong ultimately costing them two points.

The weather almost undid the home side just forty seconds into the game when a free kick to Clinton just inside their own half saw keeper Liam Smith loft into the box but it got caught in the swirling wind eluding everyone in the area, one bounce took it over Cox and also the crossbar to safety, Chris Stapleton cutting in from the left hand touchline across midfield then went for goal but could only fire wide of the post. Lamar Mason-Williams & Taylor Collins then almost undid the Rangers defence with a one-two which saw them lose control however the ball bounced dangerously towards the bottom corner forcing Cox to stick out a boot to turn away for a corner, the set piece curled in invitingly towards the edge of the six-yard box but then the weather took over carrying it out of play over the bar as if to show the spectators just how difficult it was to play.

Sol Janecki gets the ball over the line to open scoring

Joe Kittle found some space on the wing to cross but a glancing header from Mason-Williams was too close to the home custodian, Stapleton then drove into the area avoiding a couple of challenges but from close range he lifted over the top, then on twenty-nine minutes Rangers took the lead when a corner swung in from their left saw Janecki challenge with Sam Austin on his back just two yards in front of the goal, the ball bouncing down through both Ash Clark & Smith on the line and into the net. There was almost an immediate equaliser when Kittle found Elias Williams some ten yards out where his shot came back off the crossbar and was eventually cleared away, a free kick then saw a flick on to Smith on the corner of the eighteen yard box where he fired back across goal and wide of the far upright.

At the other end Mohammed Adam did well holding off the challenge of Luke Russel and also Kittle who came across to try & help out his colleague, the Grendon striker firing low towards the bottom corner but Smith stuck out a leg to divert away and as the loose ball rolled across goal no other amber shirts were close enough to take advantage, then just a minute before the interval Aston did draw themselves level. They won a free kick out on their left which Kittle stood over ready to take until the referee noticed he had an ear ring in and ordered him from the pitch to remove it, the midfielder was booked for his protests as he left the field of play towards his sides dug out, as he stood on the sidelines watching Smith took charge of the free kick which flew in over the outstretched gloves of Cox and into the far corner. H/T: 1-1

Alex Smith all smiles after scoring from free kick

The first chance of the second period saw Mason-Williams sprint down the flank to find Smith twelve yards out but his touch let him down and the bounce took it away allowing Grendon to clear, on five minutes a speculative shot from Stapleton from twenty yards had Cox peck peddling to catch with both hands under his crossbar, with his momentum taking him into the back of the net he dropped the ball which had the blues frontline screaming goal as they thought it had crossed the line, however play was waved on by the official. A left wing cross from Smith sailed over Cox and in behind Collins fought with Dan Ciuica but the defender did just enough to force the Clinton man to deflect wide with the empty goal gaping, and on sixty-four minutes the away side were up in arms again when a throw on their right saw them initially lose possession inside the Grendon box and as it bounced out to Stuart Leonard he appeared to handle before clearing, but again the man in the middle was having none of it.

A deep cross into the home area found Smith who had time to take a touch to compose himself but as he tried to curl around the keeper, Cox flung himself out to gather with both hands and they went even closer on the next move when Mason-Williams got ahead of his marker to head for goal but the ball bounced off the post and landed nicely for a Ranger to launch to safety. Aston piled on the pressure as the half wore on but they were almost undone when a pass down the middle of the pitch saw Leonard advance from defence and play Adam in behind the blue backline, away on goal he had more time than he realised and opted to hit it first time in an attempted lob over Smith but he could only steer wide of the target, then with sixteen minutes remaining a tackle from Kittle left Ciuica floored and the referee flashed a second yellow at the midfielder forcing him off for an early shower.

A Grendon free kick eluded everyone in the area including Smith who climbed to gather but missed, Stapleton to his relief was behind on the line to head away, at the opposite end a corner routine found Stapleton at the near post but he flicked his header over the top. A late free kick to the hosts saw Charlie West launch into the box but again the conditions took it straight into the waiting gloves of Smith, in added time a determined run from Stapleton saw him slip the ball through the home backline to Clark who drove towards goal until a challenge from substitute Louis Descrette saw him go down and the Clinton bench again were in uproar as the official originally looked as though he was going to blow his whistle, as the players asked what decision had been given a moment of confusion elapsed until he eventually indicated a throw in was the outcome. From the throw the hosts struggled to clear allowing Austin to shoot from the penalty arc narrowly wide, with hands on their heads indicating just how close it had been, the final whistle sounded. F/T: 1-1

Attendance: 33

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After the game Sports Shots caught up with Grendon manager Steven Jackman:
And also with Clinton assistant manager Jack Seaton:

For match photography (112 images) please click here: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmBvnXvP

SSMFL D2; Grendon duo enjoying being part of youth & Evergreen squad

Saturday 9th March 2019
Grendon Rangers v Aston Clinton
Spartan South Midlands League Division Two
Grendon Playing Fields
K.O. 3.00pm

Grendon Rangers host Aston Clinton this Saturday knowing victory could lift them into the dizzy heights of top half of the Spartan South Midlands Football League Division Two table depending on other results obviously, but after a fine recent run that has seen Steve Jackman’s squad win three of their last four games they are comfortably away from the bottom end of that table as they go into their remaining five games of their season. With games in hand on Totternhoe, Rangers could go into eighth place which a few weeks ago seemed a distant dream, although their remaining league games are all tough as they face four sides who are currently above them and also travel to Sarratt who have won their last three games on the bounce. This week’s visitor’s Aston Clinton are in two cup finals already this season, and currently sit in third place in the league having lost just once in their last seven games in all competition, and have won their last two scoring seven without conceding a goal, a tough afternoon ahead for the Grendon squad….

Mark O’Dell

This week Sports Shots caught up with Grendon duo Will Young and firstly we asked Mark O’Dell when he joined the club and how it all came about?

I have been signed on since December and played my first games in January. Andrew Hind (Haggis) dropped me a message originally to see if I fancied going training, and after the first session I got the buzz again and signed on the same night. Blocky’s (Steven Jackman) training sessions are well structured with a plan of how he wants the team to play, and most importantly enjoyable so I was keen to get involved. The lads have been awesome to be fair, and made me feel like I have been part of the club for years so it made it easy to fit in

Will Young has been involved with the club on and off for a while:

I have been with Grendon in and out since I was a kid and returned to the men’s squad this season. Grendon & I are like magnets, we are pulled together by force. Settling in has been no problem, it’s a great set up here

How does Will feel his season has been in terms of fitness & contribution?

Fitness was a bit of a struggle at the beginning being a smoky joe, however as the season progressed so did my fitness. Availability has been no problem as I only live fifteen & a half seconds away from the home ground. My performances have picked up and I’m happy with the way I am playing at the moment

Mark is slowly getting back to fitness after having time away from football for family:

I have played very few games the last three years since having my children, so my fitness has been a long way off however I am getting fitter the more games I get under my belt, and my aim is to take that into next season and hit the ground running for a good full season. Availability has been dependant on getting someone to have the kids as of late, but I am expecting to be available for the remaining six fixtures now. I have been pretty happy with my performances, and I am getting back to full sharpness. I am an older head in the changing room, so hopefully my experience along with Haggis, Andy Prescott and Stu Leonard will contribute to improving the squad

How good does Mark rate this current Grendon group, and have any players stood out?

The current squad is arguably one of the strongest since I have watched or played against Grendon in recent times, we have a good blend of youth and experience now and that should take us to a strong finish at the end of the season. I have probably been most impressed with Will Young and Andy Prescott so far . If you met Youngy before or after the ninety minutes you’d think he’s not quite the full ticket, but when that whistle goes he has been absolutely solid in all the games I have played in. I have known Andy for years, and although he has lost a little bit of his explosive pace, he has still caused the defenders he has faced a lot of issues by making his presence felt

Will Young

Will is equally impressed by the squad:

I feel Grendon has improved a great deal since last year, and we keep on getting better. To be honest everyone has impressed me, they are a decent set of lads on the pitch and off

We asked Will what his favoured position & formation to play in is?

My favourite position would be centre back, I also don’t mind the bench with a pint in my hand! As for formation I think our best is three-five-two as its more attacking and direct

Mark has returned to a position he knows well:

I did enjoy a stint in defensive midfield on Saturday, but my favoured position is centre back. We have played three-four-one-two in most of the games I have been involved in, and it has been easy to form an understanding with the lads at the back. We have a good mix of pacey and physical defenders, so we seem to complement each other well

Three wins and a narrow defeat to high Berkhamsted in their last four, how has Mark seen these games from a Rangers viewpoint?

Clean Slate was very straight forward, we expected to win that one and we did the job well and killed the game off very early on, limiting them to very few chances and we could probably have had another couple. I missed the 61FC game, but I understand it was much of the same, I know the lads were disappointed to concede, but I hear it was a screamer so couldn’t be helped. Gallacticos was a very good win and we defended well as a unit, they are a good footballing side and we did well to limit them to long range efforts, and the lads up top were very clinical when we created chances. Strangely, Berko was probably the best we played overall, but we weren’t as clinical as other weeks and that’s why we somehow came away with nothing. The fact that their keeper got their man of the match speaks volumes, but this game showed us how much we are improving as a side and that we shouldn’t fear anyone in this league

Will believes the squad have more confidence of late:

In our last four games we have started to believe in ourselves, shown a lot more confidence and belief that we can get results

Onto Aston Clinton this week, what does Will remember from their encounter earlier in the season, and what do Grendon need to change this time round?

To be honest with you I can’t recall much from that game, I can’t remember three weeks ago let alone a couple of months. However Saturday we all are going to put in a shift and a half, and fight like warriors

As Mark wasn’t at the club then, we asked if he knows anyone at Aston, and what he expects from them on Saturday:

I recognise their manager from playing against him a few years back now, but none of their players. I expect them to be a good side going forward as their recent results have seen plenty of goals, but they are still conceding in games so hopefully we can create more than them and turn them over on the day. The league doesn’t lie, so we have to treat them with the same respect as Berko and Gallacticos and approach the game as we did against them

What targets do the club and Mark have for the run in?

The clubs targets are to win all of our remaining fixtures. We feel we have competed well enough against the top few sides over the last few weeks, and are confident enough to beat any of the sides that we have left to play. From a personal point of view, the aim is to keep as many clean sheets as possible and to pop up with a goal or two if I can as well. I have a bet with Haggis that I will score before he does, so it would be nice to rub it in

Will is keeping his cards close to this chest:

Can’t be telling you that kind of information, you don’t know who will be reading this comments this close to the end of the season. However I can tell you my targets which are to get some sort of result for the up and coming games

Rounding up, we asked Will if he could nominate any team mate to go on any TV programme, who & what would he chose?

That’s no problem, it would be Sol (Janecki) and he would go on the Undateables. I know he has already tried out for it and didn’t get to go on, so this would really mean a lot to him if he could go on that show!

Mark chose a team mate popular in choice of late:

I would have to say Youngy on Emmerdale, he works on the farm, and I think his crazy character would be a great addition to the Dingles!

Sports Shots would like to thank Will & Mark for their time this week