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Swifts too fly for Black’s determined Whites

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

THREE late goals spared the blushes of a strong Dungannon Swifts side, as they overcame a stubborn Rathfriland Rangers in friendly battle.

RATHFRILAND RANGERS...1
DUNGANNON SWIFTS...3

The Whites were looking to follow up the impressive draw in their opening pre-season game against Glentoran with another good performance.

And they delivered exactly that at Iveagh Park on Saturday, leading for much of the game against Rodney McAree's Irish Premiership side after Jonboy Scannell's super early goal.

But the Swifts' class told in the end, with Liam McMenamin and a brace by Nathaniel Ferris securing the win.

McAree was full of praise for Rathfriland after the game, saying they had seriously tested his side in spite of the gulf of three league tiers between the teams.

And Whites boss Aaron Black can be content with another good showing against top class opposition as his preparations for the new campaign gather pace.

His side deserved their early lead and it came after some intricate passing that split the Swifts' midfield.

Scannell collected possession from Mark Teggart's pass before laying the ball to James Costello's feet.

The big striker backheeled it to the unmarked Scannell and he calmly slotted the ball past 'keeper Stuart Addis.

And from then on they gave their opponents as good as they got, both frustrating their attacks and posing a threat up front.

Former Rathfriland favourite Thomas Lockhart was back on his old stomping ground after he left the Rangers for the Swifts midway through last season.

And his rapid bursts up the left side brought back memories for the home support of the troubles he used to cause defenders when he played in a white shirt .

But his pinpoint crosses were never met by a teammate, with the visitors looking like they lacked a dangerman to spearhead their attack in the first half.

The Whites had worked hard and deservedly took their lead into the break.

But McAree roused his boys for the second 45 minutes, and from the hourmark onwards they steadily upped the pressure.

Twice they had the ball in the Rathfriland net but both goals were rightly ruled out for offside.

It felt like it was only a matter of time until they would get a legitimate leveller, though, and it came through centre-half McMenamin.

He rose highest to power home a header past home 'keeper Shane Harrison from Lockhart's curling corner kick just as the clock ticked past 70 minutes.

The Swifts could smell another goal and their captivating one-touch passing and movement started to really stretch the Rangers.

And while they were kept at bay for another 12 minutes, that sough-after strike eventually came through former Portadown frontman Ferris.

The teenager, who is on trial with the Tyrone side, did his chances of a contract no harm when he flashed in a glancing header from a fizzing delivery.

And he doubled his tally shortly before the finish, but the Whites were right to feel hard done by.

Ferris appeared to foul full-back Brian Bird in the build up before pinching the ball and lifting it cheekily over Harrison, but the referee waved away the appeals away and the goal stood.

While the result didn't go the way Black's Whites would have wanted, their determined display certainly bodes well for the challenges ahead.

Next up is a short trip up the road for a derby clash with Banbridge Town in the Banbridge District Cup For Cancer Research tonight (Tuesday 17 July) at 8pm.

Man of the match: Jonboy Scannell (Rathfriland Rangers).

Rathfriland Rangers: Shane Harrison; Stevie Coulter, Ryan Clydesdale, Michael McAlinden, Jonny Black; Mark Teggart, Ross Black, Jonboy Scannell, Jack Graham, Gary McDermott, James Costello.

Subs: Brian Bird, Aaron Black, Jamie Fitzpatrick, Ryan Sloan.

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