A new-look Forest Rangers demonstrated a resilient spirit with a hard-fought win over 2017 grand finalist Ballarat North United to kick off the Ballarat and District Soccer Association season.
Forest Rangers vice president Travis Johns, who also plays for the club, said it was a tough first round against a young but dangerous side.
While the Rangers headed into the main break with scores level at 2-2, a brace from Haydn Smith ignited some self belief in the squad.
“He just found his form from a couple of years ago and scored some absolute stunning goals, which turned our fortunes around,” Johns said. “Someone like Haydn, when he does turn it on, he brings the spirits up of the rest of the team.”
The Rangers’ strong second half helped turn the game around and produced a convincing 5-2 victory for Simon Leigh’s first game as division one coach.
The win came as the Rangers had to deal with three late changes, two of them defensive, due to injuries pregame and an injury mid game.
In division one women, last year’s runners-up Warrnambool Rangers looked to be in good form in match of the round against top four side Ballarat North United.
Warrnambool led early before a comeback from Ballarat North United levelled the scores, 2-2.
But the Rangers’ Isabel Wilkinson scored three second half goals to help secure the 5-2 win for the visitors.
Looking ahead, the BDSA junior season kicks off for 2018 next weekend. Senior matches of the round will be held at Morshead Stadium on Sunday, with Ballarat Soccer Club taking on Ballarat Eureka Strikers at 1pm in women’s division one competition and Victoria Park up against Ballarat at 3pm in men’s division one open.