Drumaness staring at relegation battle

Drumaness staring at relegation battle

13 March 2019

WITH only two games left to play, Drumaness are still looking over their shoulders as the chasing pack closes in, leaving the villagers with a nail-biting run-in to preserve their Premier League status. 

A point against Rathfriland at Meadowvale on Saturday, might have eased the nerves a little, but while the final scoreline may have flattered the visitors, the home attack never really troubled the more experienced Rathfriland side.

The Mills almost got off to a dream start in only the second minute. A corner kick by Adam Kearney on the left, was partially cleared to the edge of the box where Rory Deegan played a delicate chip over the advancing defence. 

Defender Tommy McConville was first to react and took the ball forward, but from a tight angle, had to watch as his low shot roll agonisingly outside the far post.

Two minutes later a surging run forward by Rangers left back Robert Graham saw him launch a wind-assisted pile-driver from 30 yards, which young ‘keeper Peter Kearney did well to hold onto. Kearney was in the thick of the action again when a corner on the left by Martin Havern found Ruairi Cunningham rising at the back post. 

His header back across goal fell perfectly on the six yard line for James Costello to fire home, but Kearney miraculously managed to block the point blank effort over the bar.

Rathfriland began to dominate proceedings with the strong breeze at their backs and a succession of corner kicks put the Mills defence under sever pressure. 

But some excellent defending from McConville, Adam Garland and Michael McGarrity cleared the danger. But there was nothing they could do in the 27th minute when the visitors took the lead with a well-constructed opener.

Costello lost his marker and broke down the left wing. A cross into the box found Harry Campbell at the far post and a first-time cut back found Marty Verner arriving in the centre to hammer the ball home from eight yards.

Another wind-assisted corner from Havern on the left fell kindly to Costello in the box. But just like his previous effort, Kearney was quick to react and make another point blank save. 

The home supporters were furious when an awful tackle on Rory Deegan in midfield went unpunished by the referee, when a yellow card was at least justified. 

Ten minutes before the break the heavens opened and players and supporters had to contend with driving hailstones, added to the already gale force winds. 

In the worsening conditions, Drumaness kept going and came close to a goal with three minutes on the clock. A free kick into the visitors’ box was cleared out to McGarrity, who tried an audacious lob which was heading in until David Ferguson managed to get back and gather under the bar. 

Right on the whistle another atrocious tackle on Deegan infuriated the home side when the referee only awarded a free kick and not the deserved red card. 

From the resultant free kick, Rory Mason hammered his shot past the defensive wall, but Ferguson managed to get across and tip wide.

On the hour mark a light-hearted moment followed another Havern corner kick from the left. As the ball was played into the box, both forwards and defenders seemed mesmerised by the ball as it bounced all the way through the penalty area and out for a throw-in.

Drumaness created their best chance of the second half when a long ball over the top from Rory Mason saw Neil Walsh break through in a chase with ‘keeper Ferguson. 

But it was a contest which the ‘keeper just managed to win. With 20 minutes remaining and the home side failing to make the most of the strong wind advantage, Rathfriland broke away to increase their lead. 

Havern found Verner wide on the right. His run to the byline and cross to the far post was met with a first-time volley by the unmarked Costello, who gave Kearney no chance.

With eight minutes remaining, and as the hailstorms returned to make conditions even worse, the visitors sealed their victory with a third goal. Some neat exchanges between Havern and Costello down the right, set up Jonathan Scannell to break free into the box and from a tight angle he managed to fire past Kearney. 

In the final minute Havern got the goal his individual performance deserved when he dribbled his way into the box and expertly placed the ball into the corner of the net.

Mills lotto: 7, 9, 10, 18. New jackpot stands at £5,500. 

Drumaness Mills 0

Rathfriland Rangers 4