Whites trip up in their break for the Border.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

RATHFRILAND Rangers feebly surrendered their hold on the Border Regiment Cup by falling to a dismal 1-0 away defeat to lower-league Larne Tech Old Boys.

Larne Tech Old Boys...1
Rathfriland Rangers...0

Border Cup quarter final, Inver Park.

The Whites had gone into the quarter-final clash hoping to pave the way towards the Christmastime final for a second successive year in order to defend their title, but an abject display at Inver Park in Larne meant that dream was shattered.

The visitors started well, with frontmen James Costello and Shea McConville linking up well in the first 20 minutes and threatening to make it a long afternoon for the Larne defence.

But the Old Boys were shaped up to try and frustrate the Whites' attack and caused them to look toothless in their efforts to open the scoring.

The first half was an abysmal spectacle with barely a single shot on target, and the players on both sides were not not helped by a slippery surf ace.

But Larne arguably edged it, with the Whites constantly allowing their opponents to win the second balls all over the pitch and the break was a welcome one for players and supporters alike.

There was more promise on display from the Whites in the opening stages of the second period, and the introduction of Graeme Edgar injected a bit more fight into the side.

But they were caught with a sucker punch when one of their attacks was abruptly halted and a long ball was pumped forward and raced on to by the Larne striker, who was scythed down inside the box by player-manager Aaron Black.

It was a clear penalty, in spite of the protests, but 'keeper Shane Harrison made a fine save to his right from the spot-kick.

His efforts proved to be in vain just moments later though, when the ball was crossed back into the box in the aftermath and in the melee that followed a shot was deflected and looped into the far corner.

With the goal in the bank, Larne sat back, bringing bodies behind the ball in a bid to frustrate Rathfriland.

And it worked - the Whites had just one shot on target in the final half-hour and even it was a weak one that gave no trouble to the 'keeper.

Jonboy Scannell made his longawaited return to first team action when he was thrown on from the bench, and he was one of Rathfriland's better performers in the 20 minutes he was on the pitch.

Teenager McConville showed some glimpses of promise on the right, and young centre-half Ryan Clydesdale was the Rangers' best performer, putting in a solid turn on his return to the backline.

But those very few decent individual efforts were far from enough to lift the overall poor quality of the whole side's performance and the defeat was deserved.

Any hopes of a cup final at Christmas this year now rest on the Bob Radcliffe Cup semi-final in a few weeks' time.

But before then Rangers will have to find a way of addressing a poor run of performances, beginning with an Intermediate Cup tie away to Crewe United this weekend.

Rathfriland Rangers: Shane Harrison; Aaron Black, Ryan Clydesdale, Michael McAlinden; Jonny Roy, Ross Black, Daryl Evans, Stevie Coulter, Jack Graham; Shea McConville, James Costello.

Subs: Graeme Edgar, Jonboy Scannell, Mark Teggart.


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