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Whites equalise in stoppage time

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A LATE equaliser helped Rathfriland Rangers to complete an impressive comeback and take an all-important point against title rivals Downpatrick in a gripping game on Saturday.

Rathfriland Rangers...3
Downpatrick...3
NAFL Premier Division

The Whites had been two goals down to the visitors at the break after goals by Peter Telford and Mark Holland but levelled late in the second half through Ally Wilson and Jonathan Scannell.

That hard work looked like it had been undone when Holland headed in for Downpatrick on 88 minutes, but Daryl Evans struck in stoppage time, meaning the spoils were shared.

After a week without a game, the Whites returned to action without the crucial figures of 'keeper Shane Harrison and midfielder Ross Black - one injured, the other ill.

And their absence was certainly felt as midfield veteran Telford gave the home side an eighth-minute lead before Holland drilled a shot which replacement 'keeper Mark Gracey couldn't keep out.

Whites winger Mark Teggart missed a glorious chance when he was one-on-one with 'keeper Michael McKenna - with a cooler, calmer head, he would have hit the net.

That forced Rathfriland boss Aaron Black to make a double change at half-time, introducing himself and James Costello to the play.

And the switches paid dividends as the Whites pulled a goal back on the hour mark.

The tricky Teggart worked his way along the left wing before delivering a cross, which Ally Wilson turned into the net.

And the leveller came 20 minutes later, as Rathfriland increased the pressure with a series of attacks.

Costello found Scannell on the edge of the box and the midfielder's strike skidded into the corner, leaving McKenna helpless.

But the drama was not over there, and with moments to go until the clock struck 90 minutes, a free-kick was floated into the Rathfriland box, where the diminutive Holland rose unchallenged to nod the ball home for what looked to be the winning goal.

Having seen their comeback wiped out, the Whites' heads could easily have dropped, but instead they set about trying to score once more.

And with just seconds remaining, a punt forward found Costello, who controlled the ball and laid it down for Evans to poke home.

Downpatrick players surrounded the referee to make angry claims for an offside, but they were waved away, and the final whistle was blown.

Next up for Black's side is a double-header against Belfast club Albert Foundry, with the tricky away fixture coming up on Saturday.

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