RATHFRILAND Swifts finally got a chance to play some competitive football again on Saturday past by entertaining high flying Annagh United at Ingram Park.
In only their fourth game since Christmas and first in six weeks it was sure to be a tough game for the locals especially given the fact that they were missing a number of regulars.
This did not deter them however and seemed to actually spur them on when inside 15 minutes they found themselves two goals up courtesy of cool finishing by Toal and Heslip.
The first was a neat turn from Toal who bore down on the keeper and slipped the ball under him, with the second very similar when Gilmore pounced on a poor defensive header from the visiting centrehalf to slide a pass in behind the defence where Heslip reacted quickest to fire past the out rushing keeper.
Toal then had a further chance when he was released behind the visiting back four but fired wide with only the keeper to beat.
The half ended with the Swifts comfortably in the lead.
The second half began with the swifts main aim to keep it tight for the opening ten minutes but disaster struck when five minutes in from a free kick at the corner of the swifts box confusion reigned inside the six yard box between keeper and defence allowing the Annagh forward to slip the ball home into an empty net.
Annagh piled the pressure on against a swifts side now beginning to tire due to a lack of football in recent months and Rathfriland were by now hanging onto a slender lead and restricted to counter attacking forays.
Annagh got their equaliser when from throw in the big number eight Rose to flick the ball to the middle of the box where after a scramble the ball broke to an Annagh striker who took his chance expertly.
Rathfriland were now on the ropes and hanging on by pure determination. A number of forced changes due to cramp and injury saw further young faces introduced into a by now frantic game with ward going off due to injury being replaced by 14 year old James Pollock at right midfield. Whilst obviously nervous he soon settled into his game simply controlling and distributing with ease. A great future prospect.
William ‘Sheepy’ Martin replaced Robb while young Neil McCrackon replaced Gilmore both players having put in a mammoth shift in centre midfield and the swifts held on for a deserved share of the spoils.
The entire squad can be proud of themselves with the show of effort from 1-14 nothing short of amazing.
Team: Curran, Jackson (capt.), Gibbons, Johnston, Magennis, Gilmore, Robb, Stewart, Ward, Toal, Heslip. Subs; McCracken, Pollock, Martin.