RATHFRILAND Swifts Reserves travelled to Portadown for a league fixture against fifth placed Rectory Rangers.
A free kick wide right to the home side was well delivered from the left foot of number 12, Rectory’s Mark ‘Icky’ Lyttle rose well and somehow managed to direct his looping header back across goal and into the net. The goal seemed to knock Rathfriland who struggled for the remainder of the half to impose their style of play onto the game, resorting to long balls and multiple off-side calls.
With the half-time whistle came an opportunity to re-focus and the Swifts reserves came out a much better side, moving the ball quicker and looking more threatening.
Their offensive threat was dealt a blow when Ryan Hillen was forced to withdraw 10 minutes into the second half, the introduction of John Ringland and a change of formation was enforced and it took five minutes for the team to adjust.
But adjust they did, Conan Power was involved in a tussle wide left, and the resulting free kick was delivered with pinpoint accuracy by David Hollingsworth to the back post, where Johnny Jackson adjusted his body well to volley with excellent technique back across goal to level.
As time ticked the urgency from Rathfriland grew and some well worked approach play sent Cathal Tumility through, this time he made no mistake and drilled his effort neatly into the net.
The final whistle was welcomed with jubilation when it sounded, the emotions from a tight battle clear to see on the Rathfriland faces.
The Swifts Reserves have taken a step closer to a title, but attention turns to the Mid Ulster Cup on Saturday. They hope it’s a case of third time lucky, and the game against Division 2’s Tullygally Reserves will finally get played.