Top draw-er match

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Top draw-er match thumbnail Rathfriland Rangers’ starting 11 before their pre-season friendly against Glentoran on Saturday afternoon (8 July).

RATHFRILAND Rangers showed they will be a formidable outfit in the campaign ahead as they came within moments of beating Irish Premiership giants Glentoran in their preseason opener.

Rathfriland Rangers...2

Aaron Black's Whites lined out against the east Belfast side sitting three tiers above them at Iveagh Park on Saturday, and fielded two new summer signings.

But it was old hand James Costello who stole the show, setting up Jack Graham for his side's opening goal before treating the home crowd to a stunning chip that was good enough to win any game.

Those goals came in between strikes for the Glens by John McGuigan and Tiarnan McNicholl.

On a glorious Saturday afternoon, a crowd of more than 250 people streamed into Iveagh Park for the Glens first visit since the came to open the ground more than 50 years ago.

The opening exchanges lacked much of a thrill, though, with both sides struggling to penetrate the other's backline.

The opening goal came four minutes before the break, when McGuigan went down softly inside the Rathfriland box after failing to take a simple chance to score.

The referee pointed to the spot, much to the bemusement of the Rathfriland players and fans.

McGuigan brushed himself down and slotted the spot-kick past Whites' 'keeper Shane Harrison, and the Glens carried their advantage into the break.

But the Rangers had been well in the game and came out in the second period with a hunger to snatch a leveller.

As the half wore on, Costello began to bully his marker and the wingmen pushed up in support, he soon reaped the rewards.

The big frontman latched on to a pass from Ross Black to race through a drill shot against the post, but it bounced out to Graham who sidefooted the ball high into the net to draw his side level.

You would have been forgiven for thinking it was Rangers who were the higher ranked side as they piled the pressure on the Glens, while young centre-half Ryan Clydesdale and new man Michael McAlinden calmly dealt with the rare threats at the other end.

And the Whites soon claimed a deserved lead through Costello's stunning finish over 'keeper Elliott Morris.

Mark Teggart played Costello through and he deftly chipped the ball over the Glens veteran.

The ball hung for an age in the air before dipping just underneath the crossbar - it was a sumptuous goal and the scorer wheeled away to punch their air with pride.

That looked like it would be the winner until the final few minutes, when McNicholl poked the ball home from six yards from David Scullion's cross.

And the Glens almost stole a win they would hardly have deserved with the final kick of the game when the same player charged through on goal with only Harrison to beat.

The super stopper made himself a big target, though and smothered the shot.

While the game was only a friendly one, the result will go down as another high point in Rathfriland's history.

And it sets the side up well for another clash with the big boys on Saturday, when Dungannon Swifts come to town (kick-off 3pm).

Man of the match: James Costello (Rathfriland Rangers).

Rathfriland Rangers: Shane Harrison (c); Stevie Coulter, Ryan Clydesdale, Michael McAlinden, Jonny Black; Mark Teggart, Ross Black, Graeme Edgar, Jack Graham; James Costello, Daryll Kernohan. Subs: Brian Bird, Aaron Black, Adam Bronte, Jamie Fitzpatrick, Ryan Sloan.


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