The Little Rock Rangers were back in action on Saturday with a Heartland Conference match against FC Wichita. After adjusting to some new faces, the Rangers battled Wichita until the closing minutes before the home team downed the Rangers with an extra time goal to secure a 2-1 victory.
With the roster still stabilizing for the Rangers, the squad had to adjust to some faces in different spaces. Little Rock added some new names to the lineup after international clearness were approved. The team was, however, without two key pieces, Katsu, and Captain, Nick Doyle. The lineup shuffle led to the Rangers using much of the game to build chemistry and cohesion amongst the team. Combine this with facing a Witchia team coming of a US Open Cup victory against the USL’s Tulsa Roughnecks and a tall task was in order to put any points on the table.
After an early Wichita goal by Franck Tayou in the 13th minute, the Rangers kept things tight against a tough Wichita squad. Going into the break down 1-0, the Rangers tried to ignite the team with some subs including the speedy, Donald Benamna. Benamna took some time to settle in, switching sides of the field early, but after settling in on the left side, Benamna was able to connect and tie the game at 1 in the 70th minute. The game looked to be deadlocked at 1 and it appeared as if the Rangers would get out of Kansas with a point until late into extra time. In the 92nd minute, Wichita’s Nelson Landaverde, scored his fourth NPSL goal of the season, dribbling past two Ranger defenders and putting the ball in the back of the net to give the home team the victory.
The loss dropped the Little Rock Rangers to 0-2 in NPSL Heartland Conference play. The Rangers will look to put their first points on the table when they travel to St. Louis on May 26. St. Louis Club Atletico drew with Ozark FC 1-1 in their weekend match. The match will continue the long road stretch for the Rangers that include four weekends of road games before finally returning home to War Memorial Stadium on June 9.
The ladies didn't have favorable results in Wichita either. However, it was clear very early in the game that the ladies were in for a long day with only one substitute. Wichita scored early and often ultimately winning 7-1. The only highlight on the Rangers side was a break away counter attack which resulted in a nice one vs one challenge between Little Rock Trojan Sairra Tucker and the Wichita keeper. Tucker was able to slide the ball past the Wichita keeper for the Rangers' lone goal.
The ladies are 0-1 in WPSL South Central Conference and are on the road again this weekend to Oklahoma City.