High five for Rangers.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

RATHFRILAND Rangers brushed past Belfast side Grove United to book their place in the third round of the Clarence Cup.

Rathfriland Rangers...5
Grove United...0.

The Whites, playing their first home game in a full three months and the first one in front of the new 205-seater stand at Iveagh Park, put five past their opponents in a dominant display.

After the deep disappointment of the previous week's bizarre 5-4 Intermediate Cup defeat to Limavady side Newtowne, Rathfriland had to be more savvy this time round.

And they hardly gave Grove a sniff all afternoon, with goals by debutant Matthew Hazley, Jonny Roy, Graeme Edgar, James Costello and Jack Graham easing them to victory against the NAFL Division 1B side.

The home side started brightly, immediately taking control of large spells of possession.

The game's opening goal came on the 25-minute mark when Hazley played a series of one-twos that took him into the box before he curled a delicious effort into the far top corner, with the visiting 'keeper only able to watch the ball glide in.

Hazley was in the thick of everything throughout the afternoon, as he and midfield partner Ross Black controlled the tempo of the game and dictated the play.

Costello was next to threaten the Grove goal when he found himself one-on-one with the 'stopper, but his weak shot was well saved.

There was a moment of controversy at the other end when a corner resulted in a strike on goal, which appeared to most onlookers to have crossed the line, but the referee turned down the visitors' appeals.

Soon after, two Grove men had efforts on goal but the Whites' new 'keeper, David Ferguson threw his body at the ball twice to make a stunning double-save.

After that rare fright, the Whites added their second goal five minutes before the break from a free-kick, after Scannell was upended on the edge of the penalty area.

Roy stepped up and walloped the dead ball clean and true through the wall and into the top corner, with the 'keeper rooted to the spot.

The second half proved to be a truly one-sided affair in the Whites' favour.

They added to their comfortable lead when a Stevie Coulter cross pinballed around in the box, eventually falling to the feet of Edgar, who took his customary touch to settle himself and then stroked the ball home.

Costello started the game having netted 28 times this season and was looking to take his tally up to 30 during the 90 minutes, but his finishing fell well below his usual high standards.

He spurned three more excellent chances, hitting the post twice and missing the target with the other when he really should have scored.

Nevertheless, he eventually got his goal when he was played through by Scannell and finished across the 'keeper to bring his goalscoring run to seven successive games.

More Match Coverage in our County Down Outlook Newspaper


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