Whites are flying high after feisty cup derby.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Whites are flying high after feisty cup derby. thumbnail A long stretch at Iveagh Park for Rathfriland Rangers.

RATHFRILAND Rangers clinched a place in the Bob Radcliffe Cup semi-finals and claimed the derby bragging rights in a full-blooded clash with Banbridge Rangers.

Rathfriland Rangers...1
Banbridge Rangers...0

A superb strike from Daryl Evans was all that separated the sides in front of a bumper crowd of more than 250 spectators at Iveagh Park on Saturday (28 October).

They had flocked to the game in anticipation of a feisty affair and they were not disappointed by the electrifying entertainment.

Both sides battled to the last but the Whites held firm and now wait to find out who they face in the last four.

The game started off at a frantic pace, with both sets of players showing commitment in the tackles in a bid to stamp their authority on the tie.

And it was Banbridge Rangers who settled into the game the quickest, showing early threats with a series of crossed balls into the Whites' box.

It was from set-pieces that they looked most dangerous, and former Rathfriland favourite Ally Wilson thought he had got one over on his old club with a trademark curling freekick.

But 'keeper Shane Harrison was not going to let his old mate beat him, and leapt to claw the ball away from the top corner, leaving just about everyone in the ground astounded.

Moments later, Ross Elliott held his head in his hands as he glanced a header wide from five yards when he looked bound to score for Bann.

It took until the 18th minute for Rathfriland to fashion a decent chance of their own, with James Costello turning in the box and firing just wide.

At the other end, Rathfriland were gifting free-kicks to their rivals and Chris Chambers stepped up to rattle one off the upright, with the sharp ping of ball on post echoing around the ground.

There was little doubt that Banbridge had been the better side in the opening 45 minutes but they had nothing to show for their pressure.

There was no let-up in the tough tackling after the break and the chances kept coming thick and fast.

Rathfriland looked sharper though and looked to build some attacking momentum in the initial stages.

At the back, manager Aaron Black and his defensive partners Aidan Sheekey and Michael McAlinden were on their toes, putting in some crucial tackles to keep Bann out.

The decisive moment came right on the hour-mark.

Midfielder Daryl Evans linked up well with Jonny Roy, exchanging a one-two that sent Evans bursting into the Bann box.

He struck the ball towards goal with his left foot, and the ball swerved in at the near post, catching out 'keeper Bryan McMullan, who was expecting a cross.

Evans wheeled away to the Rathfriland faithful as a roar went up around the park, and he was mobbed by his team mates, their reaction signalling just how significant the goal was in the context of such a highly-contested clash.

Banbridge knew they needed a throw of the dice and manager Lee Feeney - also a former Rathfriland player - made a change to his line-up, almost coming up with an immediate impact.

Substitute Stuart Mallon struck a rasping shot a Harrison, but the big stopper pushed the ball over the top.

And Mallon was gifted another great opening soon afterwards when Matty Holloway beat three defenders before cutting it back, but the young forward drilled it high and wide.

It was to be his team's best chance.

As Bann pressed for a leveller, they became stretched and Costello broke down the left, squaring to Stevie Coulter who failed to get a clean connection on the ball eight yards from the line.

Rathfriland were comfortable in closing the game out in the final stages and Wilson's hopes of inflicting a dramatic defeat on the Whites at his old stomping ground went unfulfilled.

His side had battled but had come up short. Rathfriland had won this war.

Rathfriland Rangers: Shane Harrison, Aidan Sheekey, Aaron Black, Michael McAlinden, Jonny Roy, Ross Black, Mark Teggart, Daryl Evans, Jack Graham, Stevie Coulter, James Costello.

Subs: Ryan Clydesdale, Graeme Edgar, Shea McConville.



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