Simpson Scores a Hat-trick in Final Game For Soham Rangers
Soham Town Rangers 3 Dunstable Town 2 CAPTAIN Marvel Michael Simpson scored a hat-trick in his final appearance for Soham on Saturday, helping them to claim a first home league win of the campaign. His departure, however, is undoubtedly a huge blow to th
Soham Town Rangers 3 Dunstable Town 2
CAPTAIN Marvel Michael Simpson scored a hat-trick in his final appearance for Soham on Saturday, helping them to claim a first home league win of the campaign.
His departure, however, is undoubtedly a huge blow to the club as they attempt to consolidate their position following last season's promotion.
Simpson - 28 - was one of manager Ian Benjamin's first signings during his first spell in charge of Rangers, and having turned down numerous offers to play at a higher level in the past he has finally taken the plunge to join Southern League Premier Division outfit Corby Town.
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In Saturday's match day programme Benjamin described Simpson as irreplaceable and "a one off", and praised the player's loyalty to the club.
"I think Michael must hold the world record for the amount of seven-day approaches we have had for him over the years," said the Rangers boss, "he has decided to move on and I wish Michael all the best at his new club."
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Simpson - who scored 75 goals in 326 appearances - was soon in the thick of the action on Saturday, sliding the ball narrowly wide in a challenge with Dunstable goalkeeper Taylor.
But soon afterwards the visitors put together their first attack and Stuart Strange - receiving a long ball whilst unmarked on the edge of the penalty area - lobbed home despite the best efforts of 'keeper Lea Jordan, who got a hand to the ball.
Strange then struck again eight minutes later, capitalising on a collision between Jordan and defender Stuart Williams to roll the ball into an empty net.
Simpson was again denied by the increasingly busy Taylor at the other end, but midway through the half Scott Carter flicked on Darren Jimson's long throw and Simpson looped a header beyond Taylor and in off the far post.
Taylor otherwise continued to thwart Soham almost single-handedly, but with two minutes of the first half remaining Jimson held the ball up from a Paul Jones free-kick and laid it off to Simpson who rifled home at the foot of the post.
Rangers were then awarded a penalty in stoppage time following a foul on Scott Johnson, but Taylor managed to keep out Martin Bromwich's effort.
At the start of the second period both teams were twice denied by the woodwork - Martin McNeil firstly heading Johnson's corner against the post for Soham and Jordan tipping Sinclair's effort on to the bar at the other end.
Carter then hit the bar with a 53rd minute chip when he only had the goalkeeper to beat, and Dunstable striker Strange saw his shot cannon back off the post as he threatened to complete his hat-trick.
A flurry of yellow cards followed - including one for Billy Smith - and just four minutes remained when Rangers grabbed their dramatic winner.
Jimson - who was eventually red-carded in time added on after involvement in an incident with Nolan who was also dismissed as a result of his second yellow - collected the ball deep in Dunstable's area, and pulled it back for Simpson who was poised on the edge of the box.
It could not have been scripted any better, with Simpson side-footing his shot wide of Taylor and in off the far post to make the final score 3-2.
Soham's hat-trick hero was almost immediately replaced by substitute Simon Flanz, receiving a standing ovation as he departed from the Julius Martin Lane pitch for the final time.
Benjamin had already summed up how much Rangers would miss their midfield talisman. "You don't find many players of his quality at this level," he said.
0637HD1008: Darren Jimson teases the Dunstable defence during Saturday's win.
0681HD1008. Soham's departing captain scores in his final game for the club.
0684HD1008. Soham boss Ian Benjamin contemplates a future without Simpson.
4534HD1008. Simpson played his last game for Soham on Saturday.
Photos: Helen Drake.