The Little Rock Rangers won their first ever match in USL League Two in a 3-2 home victory over Texas United in front of just over 2,000 fans in War Memorial Stadium on Wednesday, June 2.
The Rangers quickly found success in their formation after Josiah Ireland released Lance Crabtree on a through ball down the right flank. Crabtree played a low cross right across the frame of goal which was just missed by Spencer Barber who went sliding in.
It was Spencer Barber who got the opening goal for the Rangers in the 23rd minute. Nick Doyle won a tight tackle just in front of the Rangers goal. Doyle proceeded to play a ball into Barber’s feet to ignite a counter attack. Lance Crabtree made a decoy run to Barber’s left allowing the space for the young forward to attack. Barber carried the ball over 60 yards on a solo run, shrugging off defenders and going around the goalkeeper to put the ball into the back of the net!
After soaking up pressure from Texas United, the Stags hit the away side on a quick counter attack from Josiah Ireland, who found himself in miles of space. Ireland took the ball up the pitch and played a high ball towards the penalty mark, which was met by a high-rising Lance Crabtree who put the ball in the back of the net! The Rangers led Texas United 2-0 in the 40th minute and would hold the lead through halftime.
As the Rangers came out for the second half, they were greeted by over 50 young Ranger fans cheering them on from pitch-side! The shouts gave the hosts that extra boost on a humid night.
Lance Crabtree and Spencer Barber both had chances early in the second half, respectfully. The Rangers got their third, which proved to be the game-winner later on in the 51st minute. Again it was Josiah Ireland who played the ball into Crabtree’s feet, this time however, Crabtree had a wonderful turn to beat the defender and go through on goal. Crabtree fired a shot across the goalkeeper’s body, beating him, but not beating the post! Sprinting in was Spencer Barber, who forced the defender to play the ball after it came back off the post. The Texas United player mishit the ball as it ended up in the goal! It was the celebration that was on everyone’s lips, as Barber and Crabtree formed somewhat of a partnership and celebrated with the “Macarena” dance.
Texas United got a goal back from a free-kick which took a wicked deflection off the Rangers wall which went against the way Justin Hinman was going. Texas United would find their second during a counter-attack and a quick switch of play to get a hard low shot on frame, just beating the outstretched goalkeeper, Justin Hinman.
The Stags held out for the 3-2 victory and will travel for two away matches this weekend and early next week as they take on Round Rock SC on June 6 and Mississippi Brilla on June 9. The Rangers return home on June 12 against Round Rock SC.