Relegated UUJ suffer third defeat on the bounce

UUJ said their farewells to Division 1a with this 2-1 defeat away to Rathfriland Rangers at Iveagh Park.

It meant that the Jordanstown side finished with three defeats on the spin, albeit two of them against champions Downpatrick – just after three wins on the bounce had given them hope of avoiding the dreaded drop.

Saturday’s encounter was something of a ‘dead rubber’ with nothing at stake for either team, although victory would have taken UUJ above Rosario and off that bottom rung of the table.

UUJ were already missing what would have been five starters in Padraig Scollay, Kevin O’Neill, Conor Convery, Ryan Kelly and keeper Eamon Browne; ‘retired’ defender Kyle Ferguson taking over the goalkeeping duties.

Rathfriland made the brighter start, catching stand in keeper Ferguson off his line.

UUJ should have been back on terms when Chris McDonald was dragged back by the keeper, allowing a defender to clear his lines.

The Jordanstown contingent were adamant it should have been a penalty and a consequent red card for the Rangers custodian, but the official was unconvinced.

The visitors, nonetheless, managed to level matters before the break when a testing cross from Sipho Banda was turned into his own net by a home defender.

UUJ were the better team in the first half. However, in the second session, manager Shane McCullough, in the last match of the season, gave the substitutes some game time, and it seemed to upset the balance of the side.

It was Rathfriland who grabbed what turned out to be the winner midway through the second session; pouncing onto a fumble by Ferguson, who then finished the game in his old defensive role, with the injured Adam Boyce taking the goalkeeping gloves.