RATHFRILAND Rangers on Saturday hosted bottom of the table side Ballywalter Rec in a league fixture at Iveagh Park.
Despite being a constant threat all game, it was not until the 70th minute before they actually got the first goal in a 2-0 win to collect the valuable three points.
It has to be said though that Rec belied their position at the foot of the Division 1B table with a fine defensive performance with the odd impressive counter attack thrown to make it a very interesting game.
In the early stages of the game Stevie Coulter had a header well saved after a good centre from Tim Sexton. Ally Wilson then curled one just over the cross bar after good link up play with Ally Beck.
It the other end Shane Harrison in the Rathfriland goal had to be on his toes to save a breakaway chance from Ballywalter while Alan Murray also was at full stretch making a last ditch tackle on Rec’s number nine.
A great ball over the top on the left hand side by Nathan Baird to Ian Weir saw the latter hit his shot on the dip but the big Ballywalter `keeper was equal to it. For a while it was wave after wave of attack for Rathfriland with Ally Beck having a shot twice blocked by some resolute defending by the North Down outfit.
Tim Sexton also had two shots saved while also being the provider as well but half time arrived with no dent in the scoreline – entertainment but no benefit to either side in terms of goals.
On the turnaround it was more of the same with the home side enjoying long spells of possession cheered on by a large wishful crowd of home supporters.
In the 50th minute Rathfriland went agonizingly close to opening the scoring but the Rec `keeper saved with his legs from Sexton and parried one out for a corner after good work by Scott Ward.
Both Decky Allister and Colum McComish made saving tackles in the last third when Ballywalter showed any threat of breaking through at the other end.
The scoring was opened in the 70th minute when Ally Beck controlled the ball well and fired an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net to break the deadlock much to the relief of all concerned.
Ian Weir then also had a great low shot saved while Sexton and Coulter also rained in shots.
Rangers got their second of the game when Ally Beck got his brace when he danced his way through a number of defenders to roll the ball into the net – a delightful goal. This officially was game over for the visitors but Ally Wilson twice burst through late on but twice blasted his shot over the crossbar.
In the end it finished 2-0 to Rathfriland although it has to be said that Ballywalter were plucky and determined and in fact at times gave Rathfriland more to think about than a lot of the teams above them who have visited Iveagh Park this season.
Rathfriland’s possession and chances created at some point looked certain to show rewards and thankfully that was the case with the two late second half goals.
TEAM: Shane Harrison, Colum McComish, Nathan Baird, Decky Allister, Alan Murray, Scott Ward, Tim Sexton, Stevie Coulter, Ally Beck, Ally Wilson, Ian Weir. Subs: Ryan Evans, Neville Gibbons, Andrew Bell.