WARRNAMBOOL Rangers will enter their bye brimming with confidence after knocking off top side Ballarat in a nail-biter.
The Rangers snared a thrilling 1-0 win against the Red Devils in their top-of-the-table Ballarat and District Soccer Association match on Saturday night.
Midfielder Martin van Rooy broke through in the 75th minute but injured Rangers coach Nick van Rooy said they had to sweat on a referee’s call late before they could celebrate their win.
“In the last 30 seconds a Ballarat player went down in the box appealing for a penalty so the last 30 seconds were hell,” he said.
“Luckily the penalty wasn’t given for the dive and we were lucky to escape with a win.”
Nick praised the Rangers’ defence which was resolute.
“We were strong all over the park and the defence really stood up with Matt van Rooy, Josh Bourke, Thomas Sheehan and Rhys Clapp holding the back line,” he said.
“They prevented Ballarat moves. They only looked like scoring twice.”
The win was the Rangers’ ninth of the season and brought them within five points of ladder-leader Ballarat with eight games to play.
Nick said it was “one of the best wins of the year”.
“It is the first time we have nearly had a full strength team to have full strikers up front,” he said.
“Every time we have played them we haven’t had a proper forward structure so we hadn’t been as attacking as this game.
“We had Ahmed (Ebied) and Isaac Slater (up front) and they clicked well.”
Nick said the Rangers would use the bye to rest up ahead of an important stretch of games. He believes the Red Devils are in the box seat to finish atop the ladder but said Saturday’s win gave his side a chance to claim the minor premiership.
“We play them one more time in five weeks’ time and we will try and beat them again and close the gap to two points,” Nick said.
“It’s pretty obvious who the top two teams of the year are.”
Warrnambool’s division two men’s side suffered a 3-1 loss to Ballarat. Its under 17s defeated Ballarat 3-2 but its under 15s lost to Vic Park 8-1.
Warrnambool’s women’s side won on forfeit against Vic Park.