RATHFRILAND Swifts made the short journey to Cheney Park, Banbridge for a Friday night derby game with Banbridge Town Reserves and after bossing the game came away with the well deserved three points.
On a blustery and cold night the early encounters were fairly even and Banbridge could have taken the lead when Rathfriland goalkeeper Derek Curran pulled off a fantastic point blank save to keep out Ryan Moffatt’s left foot shot.
On 15 minutes the visitors took the lead when Ian Weir combined well with Joe Toal who allowed the ball to stay in front of him and then he powered in a super low drive from the edge of the box into the bottom corner to make it 1–0.
Rathfriland missed a great opportunity to go 2–0 up when Joe Toal squared for the galloping Niall Fitzpatrick to squeeze wide of the post with the goalmouth gaping.
The lead, however, lasted only a few minutes when what Rathfriland claimed to be a clear hand ball was waved on by the referee and with the Rathfriland players stopping the No 8 fired into the net.
After this the home side had their proverbial tails up somewhat and the game became a tight affair for the remainder of the half. Town had a number of dead ball situations go close while Rathfriland`s Conan Power and Joe Toal also had chances.
Paul Walsh also had a great curling shot just before the break but the home `keeper made a super fingertip save to leave the half time score level at 1–1.
In the second half Rathfriland really took a grip of the game and could have scored a number of goals but for a combination of great goalkeeping and poor finishing.
Paul Walsh was certainly pulling the strings from centre midfield while the defence of Alan Murray, Connell Jackson, Colum Mcomish and Gordon Johnston were dealing well with anything thrown at them.
A great flowing move was finished off with a great close range volley by Joe Toal but McCloskey in the Town goal made a super save to his right while almost going the other way.
Toal also blasted over from close range while at the other end Banbridge were restricted to a few long range efforts. Conan Power then missed a good chance for Rathfriland while Weir and Walsh also went close.
The deadlock was broken with 15 minutes to go when the influential Walsh clipped a super through ball to Weir who ran and drilled a great low shot just inside the post to make it 2–1 to the visitors. A third followed soon after when Conan Power showed great feet work to deceive defender and `keeper to poke the ball inside the post to make it 3–1.
There were other chances not taken but in the end Rathfriland deservedly won this game and really had they taken all their chances the winning margin could have been a lot more.
This was a super all round performance by the visitors who bossed the game totally in the second period.
TEAM: Derek Curran, Gordon Johnston, Colum McComish, Connell Jackson, Alan Murray, Ryan Monaghan, Niall Fitzpatrick, Conan Power, Ian Weir, Joe Toal, Paul Walsh.
Subs: Niall Maginn, Keith Megaw, Gary O`Reilly