Wilson wonder strike helps Rangers go top of the league table

Rathfriland Rangers midfielder Ross Black teases his Dromara Village opponent.
Rathfriland Rangers midfielder Ross Black teases his Dromara Village opponent.

A stunning long-range strike from Ally Wilson gave Rathfriland Rangers the impetus they needed to rise to the top of the NAFL Division 1A table after a victory over derby rivals Dromara Village.

James Costello and Darren McGrath also scored as Rangers stretched their unbeaten run to eight league games.

Rathfriland Rangers winger Darren McGrath tries to break past a tackle from his Dromara Village marker.

Rathfriland Rangers winger Darren McGrath tries to break past a tackle from his Dromara Village marker.

The win put the Whites in the driving seat in a league title chase, but piled more pressure on Dromara who are languishing in bottom spot with just a single point.

The Whites failed to get on top of Dromara in the first half. The frustration for the Rangers continued early in the second period, with Dromara’s young side comfortably keeping the attacking force of Costello, Wilson, McGrath and Havern at bay.

And on 57 minutes, just when it was beginning to look like Rathfriland would need to pull something special out of the hat to break the deadlock, Wilson stepped up.

His speculative effort from 25 yards went in off the inside of the post, with the ‘keeper only able to watch it fly by.

And with that, the game turned. Just two minutes, Dromara’s right-back was too casual in possession, allowing Havern to nip in and steal the ball, crossing for Costello who applied the finish.

That goal killed the game off and put Rathfriland in cruise control.

With 23 minutes remaining, McGrath got on the scoresheet. Until that point, his marker had not given him an inch of space all day, but the winger found space on the edge of the box to thunder a shot off the crossbar. It spun up into the air and as it came towards the goal-line McGrath was there to slide in and score at the second attempt.

The Villagers lacked any sort of bite up front to trouble Harrison and his defenders, and they had little trouble claiming a fourth consecutive clean sheet.

Rathfriland youngster Josh Buchanan impressed in a 20-minute cameo and he almost helped Costello to add a fourth in added time, but the striker’s shot cannoned back off the upright.

The Whites ultimately eased to the points and much tougher challenges await if they are to taste success at the end of the season.

Team: Shane Harrison, Chris Havern, Conor Larkin, Aaron Black, Jonny Black, Darren McGrath, Conor Fegan, Ross Black, Marty Havern, Ally Wilson, James Costello. Subs: Josh Buchanan, Lee Feeney, Jake Redpath.