Warrnambool Rangers' Tom Cowling ready for Ballarat and District finals tilt

CRUNCH GAME: Warrnambool Rangers' Tom Cowling is preparing for a make-or-break Ballarat and District Soccer Association clash against Ballarat North United. Picture: Rob Gunstone

CRUNCH GAME: Warrnambool Rangers' Tom Cowling is preparing for a make-or-break Ballarat and District Soccer Association clash against Ballarat North United. Picture: Rob Gunstone

WARRNAMBOOL Rangers’ finals aspirations could hinge on their performance against Ballarat North United on Saturday.

Midfielder Tom Cowling said the fifth-placed Rangers’ chances of sneaking into the Ballarat and District Soccer Association top four rested on the penultimate home and away season round.

The Rangers, coming off a 3-2 loss to Forest, are battling with Buninyong for a finals berth.

Cowling, 18, said the enormity of the task – Ballarat North United sits second – was not lost on the Cameron Pyke-led Rangers.

“We definitely have to get a win this week if we want to make finals,” he said.

“They are doing really well. They play similar to us and have quite a young side.

“They are a very quick and attacking team, so we have to be strong defensively, be faster on counter-attack and be clinical with our passes.”

Cowling said he couldn’t fault the Rangers’ effort against Forest at Jones Oval.

But he lamented missed chances and a lack of delivery to leading scorer Ryan Bail.

Forest struck first off the boot of Chris Lee in the 15th minute and pushed further ahead via Calaam Gilmer-Reeves seven minutes later.

Warrnambool pegged one back at the 32-minute mark via Morgan Brown.

Darcy Johnstone levelled the scores in the 68th minute but Forest edged clear through a 75th-minute William Koerner goal.

“We matched them physically and were pretty good at moving the ball but sometimes we mucked up easy passes,” Cowling said.

“We struggled to give Ryan the ball up front; we didn’t give him many chances at all.

“I think we crack under pressure of opponents to be honest and we weren’t looking for Ryan enough.

“Our goals came from people who don’t usually score goals.”

Cowling said he was pleased with his form this season, having started at left midfield before switching to centre attacking midfield role.

“I have been pretty happy with my performances,” he said.

“I am still trying to improve here and there but I am having a lot of fun playing with the boys.”

Meanwhile, second-placed Warrnambool Rangers consolidated their top-four spot in the women’s competition with a 3-1 victory over Ballarat North United.

Its under 17 boys’ side, sitting in fifth spot, scored a 6-3 win to keep its finals chances alive.

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