Rathfriland Rangers exited the Bob Radcliffe Cup thanks to a 4-1 defeat to Tandragee Rovers on Saturday.
John Kernaghan’s Whites were well on top for the opening 35 minutes but referee Glenn Buchanan’s decision not to send off Tandragee centre-half Gareth Dobbs for a foul on Darren McGrath was one the hosts didn’t agree with.
Rathfriland were awarded a penalty for the challenge but McGrath saw it saved, and shortly afterwards Johnny Black gave Tandragee the lead, while second-half strikes from Dean McCammond, Philip Pedlow and another from Black clinched victory. Stephen Hutchinson’s headed goal proved only to be a consolation.
McGrath had looked odds-on to score when he got in behind the Tandragee defence but Dobbs clipped him from behind just inside the area. It was a penalty, no doubt, but Rangers felt it should have been a red too.
Nevertheless, Marshall guessed correctly to keep out McGrath’s penalty and how crucial his save proved when six minutes later his side went ahead.
Black got through the Rathfriland back-four and his composed finish gave Rangers’ stopper Kieran Maguire little chance. It was a major setback for the Whites given their dominance of the first-half, and early in the second, life was made even more difficult.
Hutchinson’s attempted header back to Maguire from a relatively innocuous ball forward by Tandragee fell short and McCammond latched on to it before rifling into the bottom corner.
And as Rathfriland started to huff and puff wondering how to claw the game back, Philip Pedlow’s perfectly-placed header made it 3-0 but also sparked a revival from the Whites.
The introduction of Cathal Tumilty seemed to give Rathfriand fresh ideas and he almost grabbed a goal but his stabbed shot was repelled brilliantly by Marshall.
But the building pressure from Rathfriland did result in a score with 15 minutes remaining. Kernaghan’s high and dangerous cross hung over the goal-line and among the four men challenging for it was Hutchinson who bundled it over the line.
Rathfriland were on top again but the required risk of sending men forward came at a cost when Black scored from a counter-attack to kill the game.
It was a harsh result for the Whites and Tandragee themselves were quick to acknowledge that they were flattered by the scoreline, but scoring four times from six attempts showed that Rovers had the clinical edge that Rathfriland lacked.
MOTM: Clifford Marshall (Tandragee Rovers).
RATHFRILAND RANGERS: Maguire, McCourt, Main, Hutchinson, Bird, Kernaghan, Gilmore, Mackin, Murphy, McGrath, McArdle. Subs: Lawless, Sheekey, Tumilty.