THE Swifts hosted neighbours Banbridge Town Reserves on Saturday past in what was the first of four derby games against Banbridge opposition.
Having not had a fixture last Saturday and no meaningful training midweek the team were rusty from the off however they still managed to play the majority of the possession football.
They lacked a cutting edge though and struggled to create any clear cut chances and found themselves a goal down after half an hour when on a jinking break forward the Swifts player was dispossesed. The Banbridge midfielder fired a long ball immediately over the heart of the Swifts defence into the path of the onrushing striker who cooly slotted past Curran in nets to open the scoring against the run of play.
Rathfriland only had themselves to blame as they had become increasingly sloppy with their play in all areas of the pitch choosing to dwell on the ball and getting caught in possession on numerous occasions.
The Swifts really should have equalised before half time when they took a short corner and Heslip drilled the ball across the face of goal only for captain Megaw to miscue and somehow fire the wrong side of the upright.
Gibbons had a headed chance from a short free kick by Megaw which found Heslip who in turn crossed for Gibbons whose header should have tested the Town keeper.
The Swifts formation changed to a more orthodox 4-4-2 before half time and this allowed them to take the game more to their opponents.
The second half commenced with the swifts determined to get back into the match and they started to create some chances. Heslip had a shot well saved and also fired into the side netting from a tight angle.
The same player then managed to out muscle the Town centre half and break through on the keeper only to hit a week shot wide of the upright.
Mackin also spurned chances and it really was beginning to look like the swifts wouldn’t get reward for their dominant second half performance.
The reward finally came when a good ball into the right hand channel was latched onto by Megaw who crossed well to the near post where Mackin reacted quickest to fire across the keeper and into the corner.
Rathfriland continued to attack and but for some inspired keeping by the town custodian the game would have been dead and buried. It’s fair to say the Swifts stopper had not one save to make in the second half and this trend wasn’t helped by the visitors being reduced to 10 men when their young midfielder inexplicably kicked out at a Swifts player, leaving the referee with no option.
The Swifts tried desperately for a winning goal but couldnt find a way past the superb Town keeper. This is certainly two points dropped for the Swifts but they can take heart from an improved second half performance and having played two league games they remain unbeaten. Next up is Bambridge Rangers Reserves away.
Team: Curran, Megaw, Murray, Magennis, Lawson, Gibbons, Gilmore, Johnston, A. Megaw (capt), Heslip, Mackin, Subs: McConville, Pollock.