THE Swifts Reserves made the journey to Armagh with the objective disposing of another title challenger in the form of Red Star.
The narrow Ardmore pitch suited the physical home team better and it took Rathfriland 20 minutes to settle into their stride.
Red Star used their height advantage well and dominated the aerial challenges in midfield, however the back line of Scott, Jackson and Johnson held strong.
As the visitors settled into the game the front line of O’Reilly and Hillen looked threatening, with good support from Hollingsworth and Maginn from wide positions.
It was from a wide position that the opening goal came, neat interplay in midfield between Daryl O’Reilly and Cathal Tumility pulled the home side apart and Hollingsworth’s great run in from the right was met with an equally great pass, his strike was strong and low past the ‘keeper to opening the scoring.
The frustration of the home side became apparent as Rathfriland looked to be in the ascendancy. Again good movement in midfield allowed Tumility to dance into the penalty box, where his trickery left a defender dazed and his poor tackle resulted in a penalty. Tumility picked himself off the ground and placed the ball on the spot, he coolly fired his penalty into the bottom left corner sending the keeper the wrong way.
Ten minutes before half time Ryan Hillen timed his run brilliantly to beat the offside trap, he rounded the keeper only to be brought down, leaving the referee with no option but to produce the red card. Hillen took the responsibility of taking the resulting penalty, he opted to go for power and fired an unstoppable shot high into the net.
Moments later the same player was forced to the sideline through injury, providing an opportunity for William Martin to impress. Rathfriland led 3-0 at the break and were in a strong position.
Red Star started the brighter in the second half and forced a number of great saves from McGivern, the pick of the bunch being a brilliant stop with his feet when left exposed one on one by a rare breakthrough.
McComish and O’Reilly began to cope with Red Star’s dominating centre midfielder, applying strong pressure and turning defence into attack.
One such move resulted in Gary O’Reilly being sent through under pressure from the chasing defender who was pulling him back in the area, O’Reilly’s strength and honesty kept him on his feet however he was unrewarded when he saw his shot thunder off the bar.
Efforts from Tumility and Maginn were fired over the bar before Maginn found his range cutting in from the left to curl a brilliant effort over the keeper and into the top corner. The introduction of Quinn and Parsons brought stability late on and the Swifts Reserves ran out 4-0 winners.
A good performance against a strong Red Star saw the three points go to the league leaders. Saturday brings a break from league action and the Swifts will be keen to carry their good form into the Mid Ulster League Cup against Lurgan Utd Reserves.