A JAMIE Saddington penalty early in the second half settled the final Rutland derby of the season on Wednesday evening.
Rutland Rangers’ 1-0 victory at home to Uppingham Town lifted them one place further from the bottom of the table and one more win from their remaining eight games should secure Rangers’ place in the Peterborough and District League’s top flight before the club merges with Oakham Imperial FC this summer.
Rangers boss Andy Saddington said: “It’s a massive three points for us and our first clean sheet of the season.
“The clean sheet was good but it was more important to get the three points to steer us away from relegation.
“It was a good game of football. They put us under a lot of pressure after the goal but the lads knew we needed the points and were really fired up for it.”
Chris Steele, Jamie Forbes and David Bates all had chances in the first half with Steele striking the underside of the bar, while at the other end the ball fizzed across the Rangers box with nobody able to connect the final touch for Uppingham.
Eight minutes after the break, Bates was up-ended on the edge of the box for the Rangers penalty but Uppingham were aggrieved that they were not awarded a penalty of their own for a handball on the line by Tane Scott.
For Uppingham it has been a disappointing end to a bright season and Town boss Richard Kendrick was frustrated to see his side lose for the second time in four days to single spot kick.
“We were denied a penalty from a blatant handball,” he said. “Their bench agreed but somehow the referee didn’t see it.
“It’s the second game on the trot that we have failed to get what we should have been awarded but having said that we were below par.”
Kendrick also felt Rangers should have been reduced to ten men, adding: “One of their lads took out Andy Sayers but only got a yellow when it should have been a red.
“We are paying the price for referees being inconsistant.”
Uppinghgam’s reserves play Powerleague in the Reserves League Cup Final this evening and Kendrick says he will have to pick his players up after possible cup celebrations for a tough game against leaders Ramsey tomorrow.
He added: “We are still the highest placed Rutland side but unfortunately we have finished poorly.
“When we are squaded up we can beat anybody and hopefully we’ll get back on track against Ramsey.”
Rutland Rangers: Collins, Welbourne, Ward, Saddington, Flavell, Steele (Scott), Arkle (Bain), Forbes, Cooper, Bates (Smith), Maher.
Uppingham: Hubbard, Binley, Pridmore (Dawson), Bennett, Oliver, Laughton, Thomas, Penny, Turiccki, Sayers, Montgomery.