When the Scarva Rangers players stepped on to the pitch on Saturday weren’t just ushering in a new season, they were writing a significant new chapter in the club’s history.
This was the first ever fixture for Scarva in Division One of the Mid-Ulster League, following last year’s rampaging charge to the Division Two title and it promised to be a baptism of fire.
An early Coalisland goal gave the hosts a stark reminder of the nature of the challenge this new season presents.
A ball forward by goalkeeper Ritchie McGivern was flicked on by William Morrison to Kris Heron, who turned sharply and created the space to unleash a magnificent strike that flashed past the helpless visiting goalkeeper.
Coalisland were quickly back in front courtesy of a fortuitous own goal but the lead was short-lived.
Last year’s player of the season Rodney Douglas, playing in midfield, put his side back on level terms with a scintillating long range free kick.
The visitors sent a dangerous shot hurtling towards the Scarva net in the early stages of the second half and a goal seemed certain but McGivern produced a breathtaking save.
For a third time in the game Scarva found themselves trailing but they had the resolve to mount yet another comeback.
The visiting keeper saved smartly from a long range Rod Douglas effort, then Stephen Hendron unleashed a shot that crashed against the underside of the Coalisland crossbar into the net but the match official, without the benefit of goal line technology, didn’t feel confident enough to rule that it was a goal.
But the goal did arrive when a corner kick was delivered into the area. Derek Patton reacted decisively to smash the ball into the net.