RATHFRILAND entertained fellow title contenders Ardglass at Iveagh Park on Saturday and after failing to come out for the second half, narrowly lost 2-1.
It was really game of two halves as the locals continued their recent good form with a dominant first half performance.
However, as often has been the case in recent weeks, the locals forgot there was a second half, and Ardglass fought back strongly to gain all three points.
Ardglass who came to the park only having lost one game in the league all season, knew they were in for a tough contest as the locals started more brightly.
Beck and Evans were a constant threat down the flanks for the homeside and it was from a great crossfield pass by Beck that found Evans and he coolly chipped the visitor’s keeper to give Rathfriland the perfect start.
Moments later Rathfriland almost made it two when Gibbons released Sterritt only for the Ardglass keeper to make a fine save.
The same person made another excellent save with five minutes remaining of the first half to thwart Beck. On the stoke of half time Wilton made an excellent save from close range to ensure that the locals retained their lead at half time.
Rathfriland were left to rue those missed chances in the second half, as Ardglass game out a different team and only for Wilton and some poor finishing the game might have been over as a contest in the first 30 minutes of the second half.
It was a like watching a completely different Rathfriland team in the second half as Ardglass, lead by Deagan pushed forward in numbers for the equalizer. Midway through the second half Ardglass deservedly equalised when their centre forward burst forward and shot past the stranded Wilton.
Minutes later disaster struck the locals when the Ardglass winger shot from the edge of the box, only to see his effort deflect over Wilton’s head into an empty net.
Rathfriland decided to throw caution to the wind in the last 10 minutes and pushed forward in numbers for the equaliser. Ardglass always looked dangerous on the break and only for some last ditch defending could have increased their lead.
Moffatt and Black could have gained a share of the spoils for the homeside, but both shot wide when well placed. It was a hugely disappointing afternoon for the locals, in a game that started so brightly. Rathfriland must now take maximum points from their remaining games if they still wish to be challenging for promotion.