A James Costello double helped Rathfriland Rangers a progress to the second round of the Border Regiment Cup.
They saw off NAFL Division 1B league leaders Wellington Rec 3-1 at Iveagh Park on Saturday afternoon, Costello’s goals adding to Darren McGrath’s to secure a safe path through the competition opener
Rathfriland started strongly, always trying to play football against the physical Larne team but both teams were frustrated by a string of off side decisions.
That was before Darren McGrath gave the Iveagh Park team the lead when he was first to a bouncing ball on the edge of the 18 yard box and hit a looping header over the goalkeeper to lead 1-0.
Within minutes, forward Ally Wilson thumped the base of the post but his strike-partner and captain James Costello slotted in the rebound with a neat finish to double Rathfriland’s lead.
Costello made it 3-0 after just 15 minutes when a break down the left with McGrath culminated in him cleverly rounding the Wellington number one to roll the ball into the empty net.
At this point in the game, it was all Rathfriland and one would have thought a cricket score was looming.
However, all credit to the visitors, Rec dug in and defended ruggedly for the remainder of the half.
On the breakaway, they also clipped the crossbar and made Rangers keeper Shane Harrison work on more than one occasion.
In between, a great move involving Wilson, Connor Fegan and Costello saw the latter clip the ball wide of the upright but the score at the break remained 3-0.
The visitors seemed to regroup after the break and actually pulled a goal back on the hour-mark when a retaken free-kick hit the back of the net for the second time after the referee blew up for Wellington taking without the signal from the whistle.
Rec pushed on and again had Harrison make a fantastic save with his legs to prevent any further closing of the gap between the two teams.
Ross Black had a long range effort clear the crossbar with the industry of John Scanell always a threat to the visitors but in the end it was Rangers who progressed to the next round where they have a tough away encounter to Premier League team Shankhill United.
RATHFRILAND: Shane Harrison, Chris Havern, Connor Larkin, Aaron Black, Nathan Baird, Ross Black, John Scanell, Connor Fegan, Darren Mc Grath, Ally Wilson, James Costello.
Subs: Karl Mcverry, Decky Allister, Peter Markey.