A warm breezy evening greeted the sellout crowd as they entered Bonney Field to watch this international “friendly” between the Rangers F.C. versus the Sacramento Republic F.C. A first for the local soccer club to face an association football team from the United Kingdom. The fans are ready as they are led into cheering by the Tower Bridge Battalion and Rangers supporters from the Bay Area and Southern California have created a cheering section as well to support their boys in blue. The pregame festivities featured the singing of "God Save the Queen" and the National Anthem.
The game started off with the Rangers pretty much dominating the first eighteen minutes by cutting off the Republic, attacking their defense with ball control and by putting constant pressure on Sacramento’s goalie Dominik Jakubek. The Republic broke their anaconda like hold and nearly scored on a one-on-one with the Rangers goalie Stev Simonsen, but a late slide block from a defender kept the ball from breaking through the net. The Rangers have stopped the Republic’s attacking offense at every opportunity whilst keeping the ball in Sacramento’s side of the pitch. Play on both sides started to get chippy as they elbowed, slide tackled and knock each off their feet as the game progressed into the early minutes of the first.
The Republic were finally able to move the ball into Rangers territory and applied some pressure of their own harassing the goalie and defenders. Simonsen weathered the storm as the Rangers pushed the ball back onto Republic’s side. For a friendly this game has been very competitive and rough in terms of physicality and play. Sacramento made another offensive push in the 30th minute but after nearly scoring on a one-on-one and missing a wide open shot, the Rangers were on the move. In the 32nd minute, the Rangers made a few shot-on-goals but the solid play of Jakubek kept them from scoring and made another great save in the 34th minute whilst under constant pressure.
The game continued to go back and forth as both teams were unable to punch in a goal. Sacramento’s defense is constantly on their heels as the Rangers continued to attack but Jakubek’s quick hands nullified their offense. Sacramento made a push down pitch and nearly scored in the 37th minute but due to the strong Rangers defenders were once again denied. As the waning minutes of the first half ticked away, the game remained tied at 0-0 as three minutes were added to the game time. Sacramento scores in the extra time plus three with a rocket shot from midfielder Carlos Martinez to take a 1-0 lead into the half.
Rangers F.C. took control of the ball to begin the second half. Despite a couple of scoring opportunities, the Republic allowed the Rangers to march down the pitch to set up a goal in the 48th minute from Darren McGregor (assisted by Lewis McLeod) to tie the game at 1-1 when goalie Dominik Jakubek gave up the score. The Tower Bridge Battalion urged the fans on by singing and chanting to motivate the players in this defensive battle. The Rangers attacked Sacramento’s defense in tow but were fended off as the Republic made a push of their own. A yellow card was issued to #32 Steven Evans of Sacramento in the 61st making it their second of the game (Chad Bond received one in the 13th) and a Rangers player was issued a yellow card in the 62nd minute as both teams continue to rough it up on the pitch.
Jakubek made a tremendous save in the 65th minute whilst under pressure as both teams continue to move the ball with ease. The Rangers attack penetrated the Republic’s defense and nearly scored in the 70th and 71st minutes but Sacramento’s defense held on. Sacramento’s offense went in attack mode and occupied the Rangers’ side of the pitch missing a shot in the 73rd minute . Both teams continued to move the ball with ease but were unable to punch it in. The Rangers punched in in the 90th minute with a rocket shot from Ian Black (assisted by Kenny Miller) to win the game.
The Rangers F.C. are now 2-1-1 in preseason play and travel to Canada to face the Victoria Highlanders on July 21st. Sacramento Republic F.C. have lost their second "friendly" of the season and will play their third one against the English Premier League's West Bromwich Albion this Monday at Bonney Field. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 P.M. and some tickets are available and they can be purchased here at http://www.ticketmaster.com/sacramento-republic-fc-vs-west-bromwich-sacr.... For more information about Monday night's game please visit http://www.sacrepublicfc.com.