Rathfern Rangers, of Division 1B, claimed their second Premier Division scalp of the season with Saturday’s 3-2 defeat of Kilmore Rec in the Clarence Cup.
As Rangers manager Bill Campbell said: “We had been talking about the Killyleagh match all week, ramming home to them that we had nothing to fear and we could just play our own game. And it was a very good win as Kilmore came to us with a good reputation, with some ex-Irish League players.”
Kilmore made the brighter start and, initially at least, you could tell they were two Divisions higher than Rathfern. Yet Rangers defended well and made the breakthrough on 25 minutes; David Moore accelerating through from half-way before dragging the ball back for Stephen Boyles to curl into the corner of the net.
The Crossgar side then stepped up a gear and drew level courtesy of a free header at the back post from a corner Rathfern felt ought to have been a goal kick.
A couple of fine saves from Ryan James kept Rathfern on track, before they edged back in front on 36 minutes; Moore showing that there’s more to his game than mere pace, with a delightful chip over the stranded keeper.
Rathfern fully expected an early second-half barrage, but this time they managed to resist their all too familiar temptation to concede early, despite a lot of balls being pumped high into the box.
Campbell’s men gave themselves some valuable breathing space with the turbo charged Moore once more breaking clear, scoring at the second time of asking after his initial shot had been pawed out by the keeper.
At 3-1 up things looked good but this one was going to be a little more nerve wrecking, especially after assistant-manager David McCrea sliced an attempted clearance into his own net.
It was backs-to-the-wall for Rathfern in the final quarter, though they could have put the issue beyond doubt but for a magnificent point-blank save by the Kilmore keeper to defy Gary Orr just five minutes from time.
Rec raced right down the pitch where Philip Traynor’s shot shuddered off the inside of the post landing back into the welcome arms of keeper James.
On Saturday, Rathfern will be aiming to make it six straight wins when they travel to third-bottom Downshire YM in the league.
Rathfern Rangers: James – D McBride, Logan, Preuss – Marks, Gardiner, Boyles (Montgomery), Kerby – McCrea (Beattie) – Orr, Moore.