Derriaghy CC 3
Rathfriland Rangers 2
RATHFRILAND travelled to second place and title contenders Derriaghy on Saturday and although dominating for long spells, were undone a share of the spoils after a refereeing error.
Rathfriland often criticised for starting slowly in previous games, began the game very much on the offensive and put the home side under constant pressure. Wilson and Towell were always at the heart of Rathfriland’s play and went close on several occasions to opening the scoring.
However, Derriaghy always looked threatening on the break and took a surprise lead when their centre forward scored from close range.
Minutes later the same player increased the home side lead when he placed a powerful header past the diving Wilton into the corner of the net.
This was certainly against the run of play, but to Rathfriland’s credit they continue to play the same neat, passing football as they started the game.
Towell, with his pace, burst through the home defence and should have reduced the deficit but shot wide with only the keeper to beat.
Rathfriland were dominant at this stage and with minutes remaining of the first half they were awarded a penalty when Wilson was brought down in the box. Sterritt, who had replaced Gibbons ,scored the resultant penalty, coolly slotting the ball into the corner of the net.
The second half was a battle between Rathfriland doing all the attacking and looking for an equaliser and Derriaghy content on soaking up the pressure and holding onto their lead.
With neither side looking like scoring, Rathfriland equalised midway through the second half when the unfortunate right back shot into his own net following a corner by Evans.
Rathfriland scented victory at this stage and pressed forward for a winner, but Derriaghy, marshalled superbly by Kennedy, held firm.
Lamont then made his third and final sub. This seemed to unsettle the visitors pattern of play and with five minutes remaining the same player broke the visitors heart when he hammered the ball past Wilton.
Rathfriland, in a dramatic finale should have taken a share of the spoils but the referee failed to award a goal when Wilson thunderous drive hit the underside of the crossbar and crossed the line. Moments later to add insult to injury the referee apologised to Wilson for not awarding the goal.
Rathfriland can take a lot of heart from this performance, and must get back to winning ways next week when they travel to third placed team, Sirocco next week.