THE Swifts Reserves hosted Lurgan Utd Reserves at Ingram Park in the first round of the Mid Ulster League Cup.
The Swifts Reserves were out to avenge a league defeat against the same side early in the season and to kick off their pursuit for a league and cup double. It was clear to see from the opening minutes that the home side were fired up, putting the visitors on the back foot in the early stages.
Great wide play from both Tumility and Maginn proved effective and chances were being created for the lively duo of Ryan Hillen and Gary O’Reilly.
The latter was unlucky not to open the scoring, being denied by a great double save from the impressive Lurgan ‘keeper.
The deadlock was broken on the 20 minute mark when great strength by O’Reilly allowed him to hold off a challenge wide right and his delivery met the well timed run of his strike partner who neatly finished.
As the half progressed the chances continued to fall, O’Reilly, Tumility and Hillen all guilty of not converting. The second came through a great team move, the ball won in midfield and neat play in the centre allowed space for the ball to be switched wide right, where Ryan Hillen’s strong run to the byline and pinpoint cross met the foot of Niall Maginn who tucked his effort in from close range.
The backline of Daryl O’Reilly, Scott and Ringland were rarely tested, however they remained solid to any threat posed by the visitors. The game was being controlled by Rathfriland in the middle of the park and in truth the score-line of 2-0 at half time didn’t tell the full story. Rathfriland re-focused at half time with the agenda for the second half to be more clinical in front of goal.
Lurgan actually started the second half the better and it was somewhat against the run of play that Rathfriland scored their third, a rapid break contained three passes and ended with Cathal Tumility neatly slotting past the Lurgan keeper. The visitor’s heads dropped and the Swifts Reserves seized the opportunity to express themselves.
A fourth goal came via Gary O’Reilly’s assist and Ryan Hillen was composed enough to round the keeper and roll his effort home, his second of the day.
At the other end a corner from Lurgan was partially cleared, the strong strike that followed was saved brilliantly from Lenny, and was bettered by his reflex save to the follow up, cruelly the ball was deflected in from a third effort to make it 4-1.
The loss of a clean sheet seemed to fire the Swifts reserves up and they responded in their own style by pulling Lurgan apart. Neat interchanging passes and direct running allowed Ryan Hillen through on goal, he once again put the keeper on his backside and coolly rolled the ball over the line for his first hat-trick of the season.
Moments later Cathal Tumility timed his run to perfection and met a great pass from wide right, from a tight angle he finished well, breaking his long run of single goals to finally grab a brace.
This left time for Paul Hillen to get in on the action, a neat one two on the edge of the area split the Lurgan defence apart and he gave the ‘keeper the eyes and passed his shot into the bottom corner.
Rathfriland controlled the game from the opening minutes and only for some great goalkeeping and rushed finishing the score-line could have been much greater than 7-1, but in cup competition the only thing that matters is that the Swifts Reserve name is in the hat for the next round.
The double dream will re-start again in earnest on January 5 2013 when the Swifts Reserves host second placed Banbridge AFC in the league.