Paget Rangers were edged out by league leaders Heather St. John’s in a pulsating encounter at Coles Lane on Saturday.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors when a long throw from Tom Weale was flicked on by Daniel Douglas to Dean Rathbone, whose close range effort was blocked. Paget soon responded and Fraser Doyle was allowed space to fire an effort narrowly over the crossbar. Heather tried to assert themselves on the game and took the lead when a long ball over the top saw Simeon Cobourne outpace the Paget defence and round an onrushing Conal Dowling to slot the ball into the unguarded net. Paget responded well and were unlucky not to be level immediately when Nkosi Mzungwana’s effort was well saved by Heather ‘keeper Billy Spink. The Bears exerted so concerted pressure and got their equaliser when prolific goalscorer Ross Dempster unleashed a scorcher of a curling effort from the edge of the box which left Spink well beaten. Shortly after Heather were given an opportunity to retake the lead. Taylor Byrne was somewhat harshly adjudged to have tripped Cobourne for a penalty. Up stepped Dean Rathbone for the visitors but his effort was well saved by Conal Dowling in the Paget goal.
The second half saw Heather start the brightest forcing an early corner. From the resulting corner kick Joe McNulty rose highest to head the league leaders back into the lead. Heather continued to look for a killer third goal as Paget dominated the most of the possession but the visitors looked dangerous on the break. So it was to prove as another long ball over the top found the pacey Cobourne who chipped Conal Dowling who had run off his line to try and close him down. The match wasn’t over however as Paget stuck to their game plan and their effort was rewarded when Fraser Doyle fired an effort into the bottom corner to give the Bears hope of an unlikely point. Paget continued to press and had a great chance for an equaliser when Ross Dempster headed wide despite being well placed. The final score ended three two to the visitors but Heather will feel fortunate to have extended their winning run to 14 consecutive games after an extremely tough test from a determined Paget side.