Swifts Reserves put Cup defeat behind them

Rathfriland U11 Colts team are pictured with their kit sponsor Brian Travers of Travers Steel after their win over Portadown U11s at Annagh Utd on Saturday morning.
Rathfriland U11 Colts team are pictured with their kit sponsor Brian Travers of Travers Steel after their win over Portadown U11s at Annagh Utd on Saturday morning.

Rathfriland Swifts Reserves were keen to take to Iveagh Park on Saturday past, eager to put the disappointment of their O’Hara Cup Semi Final defeat behind them.

The opponents on the day were relegation threatened Scarva Rangers Reserves who needed a victory from what was their last game of the season to give themselves any chance of maintaining Reserve Division 3 status.

The visitors started brightly and had much of the opening exchanges, moving the ball well across the Iveagh Park and searching for opportunities through the Rathfriland defence.

It took nearly half an hour for the home side to settle into any attacking rhythm as McComish and Power began to take hold of midfield and feed the eager runs of Martin and Hillen.

The first clear opportunity of the half fell to McComish who made a well timed run from midfield and was found by Power, he had more time than he realised as the ball dropped over his shoulder but instead he rushed his effort and missed narrowly.

Scarva were attempting to test both flanks by switching wingers, which proved somewhat fruitful.

The breakthrough came five minutes from half-time, great passing and movement through midfield involving Hillen, Power and McComish saw the ball played into Rooney in the area, he took one touch and fired nonchalantly into the top corner leaving the Scarva keeper no chance.

The second half started similar to the first with Scarva pressing hard to get back into the game, but Rathfriland were good on the ball and held possession well, defending any attack with concentration and strength.

With pace to spare up top, Rathfriland drew Scarva in and attacked on the break, Martin and Hillen unfortunate not to convert on a couple of occasions.

The introduction of McCracken and Johnston added fresh legs to the right hand side, both battled well for possession and broke on attack. A combination of the two saw the ball won high up the field by Johnston, who fed Hillen, the hardworking striker seemed to be heading away from goal but stuck a magnificent pacey effort from 20 yards over the keeper into the far top corner.

Five minutes later Hillen was again terrorising the Scarva defence and cut in past the keeper at pace, but was lifted feet into the air. The industrious McComish stepped up to take the resulting penalty, his effort was strongly struck, but too close to the Scarva keeper who got a strong hand onto it and pushed the ball wide for a corner.

A lapse in concentration did see a Scarva midfielder tumble in the box five minutes from time. The referee awarded a penalty despite protests. Monaghan tried to make himself as big as possible in the goal and was unlucky, guessing the right side but unable to reach the strong strike.

The final whistle sounded with a 2-1 scoreline and Scarva Rangers Reserves fate was sealed. The three points see the Swifts Reserves move mid-table with two games left.