RATHFRILAND hosted Damolly U14 on Thursday night at Iveagh park and deservedly grabbed all three points.
Rathfriland started the brighter taking the game to Damolly and forcing them back into their own half.
For the first time this season manager Gilmore had almost a full strength panel to choose from with defenders Toner, Weir and Spiers the only absentees. The defence therefore looked different with Buller standing in at sweeper and Patterson playing for his first time at right back. Baird was the other central defender with Adams continuing at left back. The holding midfield duo of Pollack and Weir were unchanged with Mallon wide left and McConville right. Bailee played behind Megaw with the everpresent Moffatt in nets making up the starting eleven.
Rathfriland gave their opponents no time on the ball and hurried them into mistakes which put them under extreme pressure.
Quick reactions and quicker running from Bailee saw him open the scoring midway through the first half when he raced onto a forward pass to slot home past the oncoming keeper. More pressure from Rathfriland saw a cross come shot from Megaw bounce over the keeper to give Rathfriland their second goal with 25 minutes gone.
The second half started in much the same fashion with Rathfriland’s work rate continuing to be the difference between the teams. As Rathfriland started to tire Damolly started to gain a foothold in the game pegging Rathfriland back for the first time in the match.
Rathfriland’s resolute defending was finally broken with ten minutes remaining when the Damolly forward fired in through a forest of legs in a goalmouth scramble.
Credit must go to the home team for refusing to panic and continuing to take instruction from their coach when the game seemed to be slipping away. The discipline shown was superb and the defending and teamwork was immense. When called upon, Moffett in nets was able to handle anything thrown at him.
The game ended 2-1 to Rathfriland. It shows that with a full strength panel and everyone working hard this team will compete with any team.
Team; Moffatt, Adams, Buller, Baird, Patterson, Pollack, A Weir, McConville, Mallon, Bailee, Megaw, Byrne, Hillis, Bingham.