Rathfern Rangers remain in Division 1b, thanks to a dramatic 8-0 victory over Donard Hospital in Saturday’s meeting of the bottom two at the Billy Neill Centre.
Rangers had put themselves into the last chance saloon after a 5-2 midweek home defeat by Colin Valley.
On Saturday, they needed a point and defeat would have sent them down. Donard needed to win by four goals to save themselves and send Rangers and Bloomfield down; not an unreasonable target given that Bill Campbell’s side had leaked 17 goals in their last four outings.
The writing was on the wall for Donard once a Carl Murray penalty on 10 minutes broke the ice. A second from David Moore soothed Rathfern’s nerves, and two further goals before half time from Kerby and Craig McMurdie saw Rangers effectively elected for another term in 1b. Not even the most optimistic opinion poll would contemplate an eight goal swing in the second half, especially for 1b’s ‘back bencher’.
And in the second session, Donard conceded another four with what turned out to be surplus goals from the four who laid down their marker in the first half.
In the final count, Rathfern moved up to ninth place. Manager Bill Campbell agreed: “That doesn’t give the full story. We left it late, I’m not used to be down at that end of the table; it’s a different stress and don’t want to go through it again. It’s where we go from here that’s going to be important.”
Also safe are UUJ, who got the three points they needed with Thursday’s 4-1 home victory over Portaferry Rovers. Grant Gardiner (2), Paddy O’Donnell and Mark Craig (in his last game) got the goals.
Player-manager Billy Youle said: “We were well on top throughout the game and it could have been more than four, though fair play to Portaferry who kept battling away and we had to keep our wits about us!
An understrength UUJ finished off the campaign with a 2-1 home defeat to Colin Valley; Jonny Magennis got their goal.