Vital win in close race for the title

A FOUR horse race is developing at the top of Reserve Division 3 in the Mid Ulster Football League with Banbridge Rangers third string in the mix along with Coalisland, Lurgan Town and Lurgan Institute.

The latter has played three games more than Rangers Swifts but held a four point advantage going into Saturdays crunch fixture at Cheney Park.

The Swifts got off to the better start and forced no less than five corners in the opening ten minutes putting Institute under the cosh. The Lurgan side responded by defending well and limiting Rangers to long range efforts in the opening half hour which had very little fluidity.

On thirty three minutes Lurgan Institute scored the opening goal, somewhat against the run of play, to finish the half in front

After the interval Banbridge Rangers Swifts got themselves on level terms within minutes with Davy Rogers drilling home a loose ball from ten yards after a corner wasn’t cleared by Institute. The away side then responded immediately by retaking the lead with their striker slotting past Burns in the Rangers nets to leave the Swifts with an uphill task.

On fifty eight minutes Neily Wilson scored an equalising goal on the turn and followed up three minutes later with a confident finish from the edge of the area to give the Swifts a 3-2 lead.

A deep cross on sixty five minutes then saw the ball headed back across goal where winger Stephen Copes was on hand to side foot into the top corner to give his side a comfortable margin.

Rangers made several changes and hoped to see the game out by keeping possession but on eighty six minutes Lurgan Institute gave themselves a chance to take something from the game with an unopposed header from their centre half finding the bottom corner after a free kick was needlessl given away inside Rangers half.

Lurgan Institute Reserves pushed forward for an equaliser but the Swifts caught them on the counter attack in the final minute of the game with John McCahon side footing past the keeper to secure all three points.

The win takes Rangers into third place on twenty eight points with Institute sitting above them and one point point better off. Coalisland Athletic also won on Saturday and go top level on points with Institute with Lurgan Town also winning to stay level on points with Rangers.

This Saturday’s fixture away to Richhill Reserves has been postponed owing to the Co Armagh having a cup tie which takes precedence meaning the Swifts have a free weekend ahead.