A hat-trick from Ally Wilson helped ten-man Rathfriland Rangers to book their place in round three of the Clarence Cup, but they were pushed all the way into extra-time before claiming a 4-1 win over Belfast side Ford.
This was never going to be classic game given the wet, muddy state of the pitch, and in a bland first half the closest either side came to a goal was when Thomas Lockhart’s shot cannoned off the Ford crossbar and down on to the line.
Ford striker Mark Nolan headed against the bar on 73 minutes, while excellent goalkeeping by Ford’s James Murphy kept close-range shots from Wilson, Lockhart and Johnny Gibson out.
When Ryan Evans fired a great chance over the bar, it looked like it wouldn’t be Rathfriland’s day had but Wilson finally gave his side the advantage on 80 minutes when he curled his free-kick around the wall and past Murphy’s despairing dive.
Wilson almost turned provider when he gathered a loose ball and crossed it low for substitute Colum McComish who somehow put it wide from three yards.
Shortly afterwards, Rathfriland were reduced to ten men when Kieran McCourt received a second yellow for a late tackle, having already been booked for contesting one of referee Jim Shaw’s decisions.
With the extra man, Ford piled on the pressure in stoppage time as they hunted for an equaliser, and with the final move of normal time, they scored. David Frazer headed in Manuel Donaghy’s excellent cross from the left to leave the score at 1-1 at the end of the 90 minutes.
That fright brought a reaction from Rangers. They took the lead three minutes into extra-time when Wilson poked home after Aaron Cobb headed down Lockhart’s free-kick.
Wilson completed his hat-trick and secured the win five minutes later when he turned Colin Toal inside out and struck low into the corner from 18 yards.
And McGrath added a fourth two minutes into the second half when he chased Coulter’s long ball and fired it past Murphy.
MOTM: Ally Wilson.
RATHFRILAND RANGERS: Maguire, McCourt, Cobb, Murray, Weir, Evans, Coulter, Gibson, Lockhart, Wilson, McGrath. Subs: Gibson, McComish.