Sports

Title hopes are still alive after Rangers come from goal behind

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

RATHFRILAND Rangers came back from a goal down to dispatch Derriaghy CC and keep their title drive alive.

Derriaghy CC...1
Rathfriland Rangers...3

Ross Black, Jonny Roy and Stevie Coulter hit the net in a desperately scrappy affair encounter at Seycon Park on Saturday.

The Whites look set for a three-way battle for league triumph with Crumlin Star and Downpatrick.

And while those two sides also claimed three points from their games, Aaron Black's men made sure they they did not blink first either as the chase enters its final stages.

It had been a case of one-way traffic for much of the game, but the Whites spurned a glut of chances to take a lead in the first half.

James Costello found himself through with only the 'keeper beat but slid the ball wide with his left foot when he should have buried the opportunity.

And there was soon to be a price to pay at the other end for that miss.

Whites ' full-back headed a dropping ball on to his arm inside his own box and the referee awarded a penalty to Derriaghy, which was well placed past 'keeper Mark Gracey.

Rathfriland pressed to get a leveller and they huffed and puffed without sign of success for a spell.

And life was made more difficult when winger Mark Teggart pulled up with a probable hamstring injury while driving forward on an attack.

The Rangers' breakthrough eventually came when Ross Black seized on a loose ball on the edge of the area and drilled it hard and low into the far cor ner.

The game was not a pretty one, played on a tight bobbly pitch in slippery conditions, and the free-flowing football the Whites like to play was often shut down by the dogged Derriaghy defenders.

But the visitors grabbed a lead 12 minutes into the second half, when Roy offered himself as a short option at a corner - he pinged the ball goalwards and it took a deflection of a defender before sailing beyond Derriaghy 'keeper Marc Robinson.

The 2-1 lead was a slim one, though and the third goal that Rathfriland were seeking for a more comfortable advantage looked like it would not arrive.

Robinson got down sharply to stop a good effort from Costello and then shovelled a threatening free kick from Ross Black away from the danger area.

But as the home side threw men forward for an aerial bombardment of the Rathfriland box in the closing stages, they left gaps at the back.

And Rathfriland hit them on the counterattack in the final few minutes, with Costello bursting forward and laying the ball on for Coulter to fire into the corner.

It was not a pretty victory but that did not matter - another three points were secured and the march continues, with Shankill United up next at Iveagh Park this week.

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