Rangers retained our Mainland Premier League place with a 2-1 second leg win over Burnside at QEII Main Stadium on Saturday. After the first leg had ended 0-0, it was the victor of Saturday's game that would be the playoff winner. Both teams had numerous first half chances - but were unable to convert them into goals. Yusaki Okubo missed the target after beating the Burnside keeper in the first 5 minutes; before Burnside created two opportunities around the quarter-hour mark - with Rangers keeper Peter Hawker called upon to make a save. Almost immediately, Rangers had a series of corners which saw Okubo and Andy Grant have opportunities. Rangers' Player of the Year, Symon Beedles, was unable to put a far post header on target towards the end of the first half.
An even 0-0 at the break, but Rangers dominated the play in the second half. Five minutes in, Okubo put a cross onto the top of the frame of the Burnside goal - but the ball had already gone out for a goal-kick. Two minutes later, Rangers' Michael Fifii missed the target with only the goalkeeper to beat. Then disaster, a cheap giveaway and - against the run of play - Keith Grosvenor turned a cross in to put Burnside ahead. This sent the Burnside PA announcer into an almost non-stop barrage of attempted encouragement for the 'home' side. Fortunately, he was drowned out by Rangers' cheers seven minutes later, when a Nik Gebhardt solo run ended with Gebhardt shooting the equaliser form a tight angle. This goal also gave Gebhardt the lead in the Rangers first team top-scorer race.
Rangers pressed on for the winner. With 15 minutes left, Symon Beedles had a shot saved and Mark Pollock put the rebound over the Burnside bar. In the last 5 minutes of the match, Fifii rose high to head home the winner. In the scenes of ecstasy that followed, Fifii and Ekow Quainoo were shown yellow cards for the heinous crimes of removing their shirts over their head in celebration. In the last minute James Stewart was sent on as a sub for Okubo. Stewart almost grabbed a share of the top goalscorer award, but his shot - that beat the goalkeeper - was blocked by a Burnside defender. There was a tense moment as Burnside had a corner, but Peter Hawker claimed the ball and the final whistle went and Rangers had won.