Rathfriland Swifts travelled across the Mournes on Saturday to take on Valley Rangers Swifts in a Mid-Ulster League Cup game, the only Mid-Ulster fixture that didn’t fall foul of the cold weather.
The Swifts went into the game as underdogs to a team two divisions above them.
This, combined with having not played in a number of weeks, meant the boys were slow to start against a quick moving Valley team who controlled the game in the early stages.
Rathfriland did however start to come in to the game as the youthful midfield of Sloane and Bronte, aided by the experienced head of Maginn began to make their presence felt.
A resolute defence, well marshalled by Devlin between the sticks, largely restricted their opponents to long range efforts.
The industrious wide men McDonald and Wilson ensured that Valley didn’t have it all their own way, offering a threat to the Valley rearguard and creating a couple of chances as the half wore on.
The best chance of the opening half fell to Valley with Devlin making a fantastic save to his right after a momentary lapse in the Rathfriland defence.
The second half offered more of the same with Valley continuing to press the game, held out by a well organised Rathfriland defence and hard working midfield.
A change in Rathfriland formation with 20 mins to go reaped its rewards however as Sloane came close with a fantastic free kick smartly saved by the Valley keeper.
This was followed by the only goal of the game as Maginn rounded the keeper to set up Toal for the finish, who had been limited in opportunities all day but got there when it mattered.
Rathfriland held out in the final ten minutes with Devlin again called into action, making a number of smart stops to maintain the clean sheet. A great team performance with the lads digging in well to get the result.
This Saturday Rathfriland Rangers travel to Malachians for a league fixture at the Shore Road venue.
Rangers have only managed four league games so far this season due to all their cup activity and just when they thought a home league fixture would happen it was called off last weekend due to the snow!
The home side are fifth in the league table but they have played nine more game than Rathfriland. Three points before the Christmas break would go down nicely. Kick off 2pm.