RATHFRILAND Rangers commenced their 2012-13 league campaign on Saturday with an away fixture at Downshire YM of Hillsborough.
They didn’t get the start they were looking for as a goal in each half for the hardworking home side left Rangers licking their wounds.
Nevertheless it was Rangers who were the better side and created the more chances in the opening 20 minutes of the game but after that Downshire seemed to take more a grip of the game and from then on it was Ashley Gibson`s men who done enough to collect the points in the opening day of the season at a sun splashed venue on the edge of Hillsborough.
Early on a clever ball from Johnny Jess to Decky Allister seen the latter power in a low angled shot but it was shut out by the home `keeper. This was followed by a brilliant long range effort from Scott Ward which the `keeper parried over the crossbar.
Jess also had an effort on goal as did Ally Beck but as the game progressed the plucky Downshire team grew in confidence and got themselves back into the game.
Harrison in the Rathfriland goal done well to claw a few corners out of the air but the deadlock was broken on the 35 minute mark when one of the home strikers nipped through, lobbed the ball over a Rathfriland defender and progressed to slot the ball low into the net to make it 1–0.
Rathfriland`s best effort before halftime was a Munn free kick over the bar but a narrow escape at the other end prevented Downshire from taking a two goal lead into the break. On the restart Rathfriland changed things around somewhat with Paul Evans offering a good outlet on the left for the visitors. The home side kept up their side of the bargain and always were a danger on the break but it was Rathfriland who were thrown the proverbial lifeline on the hour when they were awarded a penalty for a challenge inside the 18 yard box. Coulter`s penalty was saved and the defenders then done enough to get the ball away to safety.
Within minutes it was 2–0 to Downshire when again they broke through and the number nine kept his cool to slot the ball past Harrison to give a 2–0 scoreline.
This effectively closed off the game and Downshire finished with the three points in the bag in the season opener.
This was not a good day at the office for the Whites but there’s much to look forward to, starting with a midweek fixture tonight (Tuesday) August 14 at Iveagh Park – kick off 6.30pm.
TEAM: Shane Harrison, Kevin Henry, Paul Walsh, Connor Larkin, Stevie Munn, Scott Ward, Stevie Coulter, Ryan Evans, Ally Beck, Johnny Jess, Decky Allister. Subs: Ciaran Feehan, Paul Evans, Stevie Greene