Bels kept honest by youthful Rangers

EARLY on in both halves at the KGV 3G on Friday night it seemed a dominant Belgraves would ease their way into the last eight of the Guernsey FA Cup.

But you have to hand it to a generally youthful Rangers group, for digging in and making a real game of it and even threatening half-an-hour of extra time when Jacques Cauvin scored Rangers’ second with five minutes of normal time remaining, but it finished 3-2.

It is the oddity of football that Reece Le Brun was both star and villain of the piece for Rangers.

The young keeper made a string of very fine saves, but it was his horrible gaffe just before the break that handed Belgraves a 2-1 interval lead to build on, which they did.

Both sides welcomed back important players.

Belgraves were close to full strength with Brent Marquand back up front and Leroi Riley in goal.

Dave Rihoy was there, too, trying to build fitness after a lengthy spell out.

It is quite likely that, once again, this classy veteran will head back into the GFC ranks, but as good as he remains, you feel that in Belgraves terms the key man and the one to keep has to be Wayne Bishop.

Against his old club Bishop again showed just how fine a spearhead he is at this level, causing no end of problems with his speed, brute strength and downright honesty.

Here he fought a constant battle with Rangers veteran Matt Solway and it was good to see two robust performers give it out but also able to take it without grumble.

Pushing Le Brun for man-of-the-match honours was the young central midfielder Cauvin.

For someone still 16 until the start of last month, his performance caught the eye and in an area featuring the likes of multi-capped Joby Bourgaize, former York pro Dave Merris and the always lively Stu Roussel, Cauvin stood out in all aspects.

But the problem with Rangers is that they lack the old heads that Bels enjoy and, in the main, it was that experience and guile which allowed them to create the bulk of the openings.

Belgraves started fast and might easily have already been a goal up before they went ahead via an own goal on seven minutes.

Le Brun made a spectacular save to concede a corner and when the dead ball kick was swung over to the far post Barnaby Taylor hooked his attempted clearance into his own net.

But 11 minutes later Rangers were level.

Brad Foss, who showed some good touchline skills on occasion, fed Sam Heathcote from the left and the young striker clinically finished to Riley’s right.

Rangers captain Shane Billien, right, congratulates Sam Heathcote on his goal on Friday night at the KGV. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 30371784)

Belgraves continued to force chances and Marquand was usually the man going close until he finally struck with the 45 minutes up.

Inexplicably, Le Brun threw a weak ball straight to Marquand lurking alone just beyond the penalty area and the striker stayed calm to tuck away his shot between the keeper’s legs.

To his credit, Le Brun kept it together for the second 45 and made several more very fine saves as Belgraves went for the kill just after half-time.

Rangers resisted bravely and briefly thought they had levelled on 67min., but Fin Belnavis’s effort was scrubbed out for offside.

Soon after, Marquand put the tie to bed with a fine finish from Roussel’s cut back, only for Cauvin to put the blue-and-whites back on edge with a second for Rangers late on.

Ultimately though, the better side went through to face Vale Rec in the next round.

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