Lisburn Distillery v Rathfriland Rangers (Playr-Fit Teamwear Premier Intermediate League) – Saturday 3rd February 2024
It was a first at New Grosvenor on Saturday as Lisburn Distillery hosted Rathfriland Rangers in what was a first competitive meeting between the two sides.
Familiar faces in the Rathfriland line up were manager Ally Wilson and captain Andy Kilmartin, both former Distillery players.
Whites manager Barry Johnston made three changes from the 1-1 draw against Queens, Josh Lynch returned from a lengthy suspension and Breandan O’Neill made his full debut, Ryan Sharkey also came into the starting line-up with Dean Lewis, Robert Geddis and Ryan McNickle making way.
Unfortunately, the game could not have got off to a worse start for the home side as Wilson’s side kicked off, immediately going on the attack and Jesse Carson took advantage of some slack defending to fire his side into the lead with less than 25 seconds on the clock.
Perhaps shellshocked after the early goal Distillery struggled to get going in the game but did have their first effort on goal in the 14th minute when Joe Tully’s shot from outside the box just stung the fingertips of Ronan Burns. Three minutes later Jack Berry tried his luck on goal after cutting infield from the left, but a Rathfriland defender deflected the ball away from goal.
With 25 minutes on the clock the Distillery goal came under threat again when O’Neill cleared a cross from the left but only as far as Jordan Hayes, whose shot went over the bar and then with just over 30 minutes played Hayes was involved again as he sought to latch onto a ball over the top, in the end it bounced out for a goal kick, though there was some protest as to who touched the ball last.
Distillery did see more of the ball towards the end of the first half and had two good chances to equalise, first in the 33rd minute Johnny Angus headed over after the ball was quickly recycled when a dangerous Berry cross was punched away by Burns, the defender will perhaps feel he should have hit the target at least. Then two minutes later Gerard Storey found himself with the ball just inside the box and with only Burns to beat but he seemed to slip as he took his shot and ended up scuffing it wide, perhaps summing up the half for the Whites.
One goal down at half time and while the home side were still very much in the game there was going to need to be a big improvement after the break if the Johnston’s side were to get anything from the game.
Half-Time: Lisburn Distillery 0-1 Rathfriland Rangers
The Whites did step things up early in the second half and Berry sent a dangerous looking ball into the box three minutes after the break but no one was there to finish it. Then, in the 51st minute, the same player got on the end of a pass out on the right and some space opened up for him to cut inside. Unfortunately, he seemed to get caught in two minds as whether he should cross or go it alone and ended up taking one touch too many and the chance disappeared.
Johnny Angus was the next Distillery player to threaten the Rathfriland goal when he strode forward with the ball and let fly with a strike from distance but it whistled just past Burns’ left hand post. Burns was tested just before the hour mark when a Storey free kick was headed on to Ryan Sharkey by Tully but his first time effort from the edge of the box ended up being a comfortable enough save for the visiting goalkeeper.
The second goal of the game came in the 63rd minute but unfortunately it went the way of the visitors, Matthew Holloway cut infield from the left and fired past Ethan Carry via the post.
The second goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home side and all but ended the game as a contest and it was the visitors who went closest to extending their lead but Carry did well to save a shot from range that took a couple of deflections on the way through.
It turned out to be a day at the office to forget for Distillery as Rathfriland came out on top in the first competitive meeting between the two sides. The Whites will not have to wait long for the return match as it takes place later this month but before that, we have a home game on Saturday against Coagh United.
Full Time: Lisburn Distillery 0-2 Rathfriland Rangers
Lisburn Distillery; Carry ©, Sharkey, Woods, Angus, Whiteway, Lynch, Berry, Newell, Tully, Storey, O’Neill
Lisburn Distillery substitutions; McConnellogue, Geddis (for Newell, 67 mins), Brady, Devenny (for Sharkey, 64 mins), Hosick, McVarnock
Match report by Cameron Moore (@cameron2604)
David Hunter’s picture gallery from this game can be found @ https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBcWRa