Warrnambool Rangers' women paid tribute to its late coach Jim Gray with an impassioned performance in its return to the Ballarat and District Soccer Association.
The club dedicated Sunday's men and women's matches to Gray, who passed away last year.
In its first showing in four years, the Rangers' women put up a stellar fight against the more experienced Forest Rangers, ultimately going down 2-7.
Winning on forfeit in the opening round, it was the new-look Rangers' first opportunity to put training into practise, with coach Paul Braithwaite thrilled by what he saw.
"It's good to give these girls the opportunity to play at a higher level," he said. "A lot of them were really nervous before the game but after they came to me and said 'oh we can actually do this'."
With five players unavailable for the game and players coming from as far as Portland, Timboon and Horsham, Braithwaite believes the Rangers can be a force in the competition.
"There was a couple there (on Sunday) who just met each other for the first time," he said. "But we're looking forward to building on today, we thought we did really well. They showed a lot of heart at the end and they've come from all different backgrounds.
"Once we get the mix right, we have the power up front," he added. "Tiegan (Kavanagh's) come to us from NSW and has played at a pretty good level.
"She's an experienced striker, so once we settle in with our routine of getting the ball to her, just having somewhere who can finish with the ball and teach others is really valuable."
With its number one goalkeeper unavailable, teenager Elanora Williams impressed many with her dogged performance.
"Ella stepped up, and she was awesome. Under pressure she did so much," Braithwaite said. "Forest's coach even came over and commented how well she did."
The men's team dominated its round two clash against Forest, piling on seven unanswered goals across the two halves.
Owen Kirby opened the Rangers' account in spectacular fashion, sinking a bending long cross from the right corner. Ryan Bail scored a hat-trick and was in vintage form.
Rangers men's coach Cam Pyke said it was a vital day for the club.
"It was a big day for the club, to get our girls on the pitch was awesome and it was important to recognise Jim Gray and his contributions to our club," he said. "We stormed home, and it's really important to get these wins early in the season."
Pyke said he was impressed with the mix of his team and believed his group was 'gelling'.
"Early on in the season it's about finding our feet. Importantly we kept the core of our side together and we're starting to see the team gel," he said.
With an even spread of scorers, Pyke said the attacking side of the game was showing exciting signs.
"Ryan (Bail) is a real key for us," he said. "He's a quality player, scored something like 18 in a reduced season - he's lethal and it was important to have other contributions."
The Rangers will rest up during the week off ahead of two crunch clashes against Ballarat North and Vikings FC.
"We'll just take the opportunity to rest and hit the ground running next week," Pyke said of the preparations.
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