Third win in a row as visitors Rathfriland take the spoils

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Rathfriland Rangers recorded a third win on the bounce for the first time this season, with a well-deserved 2-1 victory away to Dundonald on Saturday.

After slipping behind to Ryan Harvey’s early goal for the home side, Decky Carville levelled for Rathfriland before setting up James Costello for the winner 10 minutes before half-time.

It marked another big moment in the season for the Whites, and new manager Clifford Sterritt appears to be leading his side to a revival at the crucial time.

But for the opening 15 minutes of this clash, Rathfriland were undoubtedly second-best, and Harvey pounced to put the home side ahead.

Going behind seemed to spark a reaction from the Rangers and the began to play with more cohesion and threat.

It was little surprise then when the Whites claimed an equaliser, with Kevin Henry delivering a superb ball forward for Carville to latch on to, before just getting enough on it to take it past the ‘keeper and watch it nestle in the far corner.

And on 35 minutes, they grabbed the advantage.

Again Carville was in the thick of it, bursting into the box before laying on a deft pass with the outside of his foot for Costello to side-foot into the net from the edge of the six-yard-box.

It was no less than the Whites deserved - they had taken the game by the scruff of the neck - and they continued in search of another in the lead-up to the break.

Carville, Costello and McVerry all exchanged rapid passes on the edge of the box, with McVerry opting to go for goal when giving the ball Darren McGrath, who was much better placed, was arguably a better option.

And in added-time, McGrath got to the byline before crossing low for Carville, but his delicate finish didn’t have enough power and Dundonald ‘keeper Andrew Fox smothered the ball on the line.

It was all Rathfriland in the second period, too. Firstly, McGrath was denied by Fox after a defence-splitting through-ball by Carville, before McVerry and then Costello both curled shots just inches wide of the far-post.

Dundonald did pose an occasional threat and while the scoreline was still 1-2 it was still very much in the balance.

But Rathfriland’s attacks continued, Carville and Costello the main men delivering the threats.

Carville almost scored a wonder-goal, controlling a long ball forward on his chest, before unleashing a fizzing volley which cannoned back off the crossbar.

Whites ‘keeper Kieran Maguire had little to do for most of the game, but as the clock ticked towards 90, he needed to be on his toes. First, he prevented a certain goal with a full-stretch diving save from Tumelty’s effort, and then denied Chris Towell with another sharp stop.

In the closing moments, Costello again burst forward to the byline and his delivery right across the six-yard-box was somehow turned over by substitute Ben Wilson when it looked easier to score.

A tough clash with Abbey Villa now awaits this weekend, but with a much-needed upturn in form Rathfriland will fancy their chances of gaining another valuable three points in their battle to beat the drop.

Man of the match: Decky Carville (Rathfriland Rangers).

Rathfriland Rangers: Kieran Maguire, Chris Havern, Conor Larkin, Nathan Baird, Conor Fegan, Kevin Henry, Ross Black, Darren McGrath, James Costello, Karl McVerry, Decky Carville. Subs: Mickey Green, Lee McDowell, Ben Wilson.