ALLY Wilson’s late free-kick clinched a draw for Rathfriland Rangers away to Bloomfield, but the Whites will be disappointed with just a point after missing a host of chances.
Michael Getty opened the scoring for the home side before Decky Allister levelled, and then Wilson put the Rangers ahead on the stroke of half-time.
But Bloomfield looked to have won it with two goals from Stuart Jeffers, until Wilson scored with the last move of the match.
It took 15 minutes for the first chance to arise, Wilson having a header cleared off the line, and moments later, the east Belfast side were in front. Colum McComish should’ve dealt with a weak cross, but he miscued his clearance, and Getty slotted home the opener.
Looking for an equaliser, Alan Beck crossed low to Wilson, who could only divert the ball onto the underside of the bar.
But on 24 minutes, the scores were all square. Beck’s free-kick to the edge of the six-yard box was tucked in by Allister, and gave Bloomfield stopper Craig Harvey no chance.
And another free-kick caught Bloomfield sleeping just before the break. Coulter played the ball to Wilson, and he turned Bloomfield skipper Matthew McCarter to make space for a shot, and found the bottom corner with a great effort.
Rathfriland winger Ryan Evans made his first start in over three months, and just after half-time Ian Weir surged down the left and expertly played a cross to him, but he drove his shot wide of the post.
With 20 minutes remaining, Bloomfield’s Curtis Booth shot from 18 yards out, only denied a goal by Shane Harrison’s sharp save. But dreadful marking at the resulting corner allowed Bloomfield back into the game, when Jason Elliot was allowed a free header to send Getty’s deep delivery back across goal, and Jeffers turned the ball in.
With the score at 2-2, Rathfriland began to look ragged in both defence and attack; only Scott Ward in midfield was able to maintain some sort of control on proceedings. Weir handed Evans an exact copy of his earlier chance, but again he put it wide.
That miss came at a price, as five minutes later the Whites were behind. Getty’s low free-kick from wide left found its way into the six-yard box, and Jeffers was there to touch it past Harrison for his second of the day.
Rathfriland threw bodies forward in a desperate bid to rescue a point, and Harrison punted a kick right into the opposition box, which fell to Wilson, but he missed from point-blank range when it was easier to score.
But in the 93rd minute, they were awarded a free-kick 25 yards out for a challenge on Weir. With bodies in the box, Wilson floated the ball in but everyone missed it, including the goalkeeper who stood and watched it nestle in the corner of his net. Rathfriland had avoided defeat with virtually the last kick of them game.
Man of the match: Scott Ward (Rathfriland Rangers)
Bloomfield: Craig Harvey, Stuart Jeffers, Andrew Binks, Gary Lamont, Matthew McCarter, Stuart Woods, Scott Johnston, Robert Roulsten, Christopher Cowden, Curtis Booth, Michael Getty. Subs: Alan Armstrong, Jason Elliot, Darrian Shaw.
Rathfriland Rangers: Shane Harrison, Colum McComish, Alan Murray, Decky Allister, Nathan Baird, Ryan Evans, Scott Ward, Stevie Coulter, Tim Sexton, Ally Wilson, Alan Beck. Subs: Paul Gibbons, Aaron Robb, Ian Weir.