RATHFRILAND Rangers hosted Downshire YM in a league fixture at Iveagh Park on Saturday and after a very complete performance ran out 5–1 winners against a determined Downshire YM side – had it not been for the brilliance of the visiting `keeper the scoreline could have been a lot more.
In the early stages of the game Rathfriland were in attacking mood and were a real threat down the right hand side with Ally Evans and Ryan Evans in particular getting a lot of the ball.
Ryan Evans had one of his shots brilliantly saved but he made it 1–0 soon after with a well taken shot to get the Whites up and running. Minutes later both Coulter and Wilson went close while Scott Ward also had a shot just close of the target.
The second goal of the game came on the 20 minute mark when Rathfriland were awarded a penalty for a foul in the box with Stevie Coulter calmly slotting the ball just inside the post.
At 2–0 and well on top Rangers conceded a poor goal when a lazy back pass was intercepted and in Rathfriland `keeper Shane Harrison`s attempt to clear the ball squirmed into the empty net leaving Harrison needing treatment before continuing.
The 2–1 scoreline certainly gave the visitors more belief and on more than one occasion threatened the Rathfriland goal but a combination of Harrison, Connor Larkin and Decky Allister in central defence made sure that there was no break through for Downshire.
A feisty spell of play saw a yellow card for both sides before half time with Ryan Evans a constant thorn in the side of the Hillsborough based club.
On the restart Rathfriland were very quick out of the blocks and got the early goal to remove the always dangerous 2–1 scoreline. Great play down the left hand side between Ian Weir and Ally Beck allowed the latter to progress and pull a low centre across the box with Ally Wilson rushing in to get a deft touch to guide the ball into the bottom corner to make it 3–1.
Rathfriland continued to pressure with Coulter having one point blank at the `keeper and Scott Ward and Ally Wilson firing just over.
The fourth goal came after great inter play between Ally Wilson and Johnny Jess with Jess taking the return to neatly lob the ball over the `keeper to make it 4–1 to Rathfriland.
At the other end Downshire had the odd chance with Harrison pulling off a great one on one save but the goal of the game came when Rathfriland man Joe Toal superbly controlled a high ball into the box and spun and thumped the ball into the bottom corner for the loudest cheer of the day from the large contingent of Rathfrland supporters.
Captain Kevin Henry had a great game in centre midfield and it was him who set up Ryan Evans before the end for a thumping drive which the goalkeeper palmed out for a corner.
In the end a great performance from Rathfriland who played some brilliant football and the teamwork on the day was immense to claim the three points in a game where really the margin of difference between the two sides was clear.
TEAM: Shane Harrison , Ally Evans, Ian Weir, Connor Larkin, Decky Allister, Kevin Henry, Scott Ward, Ryan Evans, Stevie Coulter, Ally Wilson, Ally Beck.
Subs: Johnny Jess, Joe Toal, Paul Gibbons, Andrew Bell.