RATHFRILAND Rangers travelled to Hillsborough to lock horns with Downshire YM in what is always a tough league fixture at the away venue.
The fine weather conditions were not matched by a fine surface as the bobbly pitch made it difficult for both sides to get the ball down and play neat football.
Downshire missed an early chance to go a goal up and Rathfriland`s first early chance fell to Ally Wilson whose shot was blocked by a good tackle just as he was about to pull the trigger.
On the 15 minute mark Rathfriland had a brilliant and genuine claim for a penalty as Ally Beck was hauled down just inside the box but the referee waved play on.
The match was getting physical to some degree and two raw challenges on Rathfriland players did see two free kicks awarded but no cards of any colour were shown.
Downshire then took the lead when from a corner kick the ball was flicked in off the head of a Rathfriland player for an own goal but unfortunately for Rangers it was the home side who benefited.
Ally Beck then clipped one agonisingly just past the post and Kevin Henry then had a shot parried by the `keeper with Beck just failing to capitalise on the final touch. Downshire went close from a couple of dead ball situations but Wilson went even closer with a long range effort than just missed the frame of the goal.
On the stroke of half time the visitors were awarded a penalty with another challenge on Beck but Ally Wilson`s great strike from the spot was saved with an equally great save by the Downshire `keeper who got a super strong hand to parry it over the bar leaving the half time score at 1 – 0 to Downshire YM.
On the restart Nathan Baird went close with a low left foot drive but the `keeper saved while at the other end Neville Gibbons made a great last ditch tackle to stop the home side going two goals up.
Within minutes a corner kick by Evans was flicked into the net by a Downshire player for a carbon copy own goal of the first one drawing the teams level at 1– 1.
Downshire’s Gibson was conducting things well for the home side in midfield particularly in the aerial battles as both teams continued to battle it out.
The amount of play in the middle third of the pitch far outweighed the amount of chances from both teams with neither goalkeeper particularly busy. A long ball up field then was flicked on by Wilson but Beck poked it just past the post.
In the dying stages both team had half chances but in the end it finished 1 – 1.
This was a tough game for both sides and on a difficult pitch football was not at a premium. In the end, although Rathfriland had slightly more chances, maybe neither team deserved to win – always a tricky fixture away to Downshire.