Whites’ win cuts down Roses

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

A DOUBLE from hotshot James Costello saw Rathfriland Rangers plough on in their pursuit of Clarence Cup glory, with victory over a dogged Rosario side.

Rathfriland Rangers...3

Costello scored a goal in either half, sandwiching a strike by Stevie Coulter, as the Whites continued their recent run of fine form in Belfast on Saturday (24 February).

The Roses from the Ormeau Road sit two divisions below Rathfriland and their game plan to sit back and defend was evident from the outset.

That allowed Rangers to retain the ball with ease but they lacked the final piece of the puzzle to break through the condensed Rosario backline.

Fullbacks Jonny Roy and Jack Graham were probably the busiest of the Whites' players with their overlapping runs, but the sheer volume of home team players based in the final third of the pitch meant there was little goalmouth action for the visitors.

The first goal of the game did eventually come after 35 minutes, when Graeme Edgar swung in an unstoppable cross for Costello to stoop to head home from six yards at the back post.

But just as they gained one advantage, they surrendered another, with dynamic midfielder Matthew Hazley seeing red.

He was initially booked for a late challenge but an exchange with the referee after he was shown that first yellow, resulted in a second booking and a subsequent sending off immediately afterwards.

Down to 10 men, the Whites comfortably held the ball for much of the remaining seven minutes of the half before regrouping in the changing room at the break.

Matters were not helped by an injury to one of the star men, Jonathan Scannell, who was replaced by Coulter.

The veteran midfielder would provide an intensity to the play on his introduction, which proved crucial in later stages of the game.

But eight minutes after the restart, things went from bad to worse for the Whites when Rosario equalised.

It was hardly a pretty goal, with the ball being bundled past 'kee per David Ferguson, but it certainly counted and it looked like Rathfriland would have a real battle on their hands.

The Whites dusted themselves down, though, and immediately got a goal in reply.

Edgar again bombed up the right wing, playing the ball into the path of Coulter, who struck a delightful effort past the 'keeper from a tight angle.

In spite of falling behind, Rosario continued to allow the Whites to have the ball at the back and the visitors happily ate up time in the game's later stages.

Returning from injury, Daryl Evans was then introduced to shore things up for Rathfriland, while teenager Shea McConville offered blistering pace on the left flank.

Five minutes of the game were remaining when the Whites caught Rosario out again.

With men committed forward in search of a late leveller, the home side lost the ball due to Coulter's pressing and played in Costello, who scampered clear to round the 'keeper and finish off the game.

That secured a fourth-round clash with Derriaghy CC in two weeks' time, with the Whites facing the same side in league action this Saturday (3 March).


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