Downpatrick had to battle hard against a good Ards Rangers team in the third round of the Border Cup, click on the link to read Charlie McStay’s report…
Saturday 8th October – NAFL Border Cup 3rd Round
Downpatrick FC 3 v Ards Rangers 1
IT was atonement day for Downpatrick when they finally got the better of Ards Rangers in a rip-roaring cup tie at Rosconnor. The combatants warmed the cockles of the heart with a full blooded clash where quarter was not asked or given and referee Cecil Floyd had his work cut out keeping a lid on things over a pulsating 90 minutes that flew in.
Ards Rangers, who beat Downpatrick in the 2015 Border Cup final, settled quickly and with just five minutes gone they created the first real opening, but young Ronan Holland, deputising for the unavailable Michael McKenna, saved well from Glen Upton. A war of attrition was developing in the battle for midfield supremacy and it certainly resembled a war zone as the tackles flew in from both sides. However, Downpatrick took the sting out of things in the 13th minute when they made the breakthrough. Jack McLaughlin, who is a speed merchant with a touch to die for, sped past Marc Roy out on the right before crossing to Aaron McGarry at the back stick. Aaron had every right to go it alone when he was left unmarked, but he unselfishly rolled the ball into the path of Andy Baggley and he produced the deftest of touches to clip the ball into the top right hand corner of the net from the edge of the box.
Downpatrick were now in full flow with Baggley snapping at anything that moved in front of him and Philip Traynor, Barry Treacy and McGarry running at an experienced Ards Rangers back four where Michael Moore and Jamie Patterson were superb.
Chances were hard to come by at either end with both defences on top, but Downpatrick’s ability to go wide almost produced even greater dividends in the 40th minute when Stephen Galbraith got on the end of a cross from McGarry, but his powerful header was spectacularly turned over the bar by Kieran Gordon. The former Downpatrick custodian then produced another brilliant save two minutes later to deny McGarry as the intensity of the game increased.
Downpatrick did make it 2-0 in the 43rd minute when a McGarry cross was headed home at the back post by Baggley, via the boot of a helpless Ards defender. Ards Rangers pulled one back just before the break when Ryan Newberry unerringly drilled in a free kick from the edge of the box to set things up nicely for the second half.
Half Time: Downpatrick FC 2 v Ards Rangers 1
The first chance after the break came two minutes in when Galbraith broke into the box and got a shot in that was kept out by Gordon, but he got lucky when Baggley was inches away from getting on the end of the rebound. Two minutes later at the other end Ricky Rutherford, who had a relatively quiet game, had a shot saved by Holland. Downpatrick retaliated in style and with 51 minutes gone McLaughlin crossed for Galbraith, but Moore produced a superb covering tackle to deny him.
Slowly, but surely, Downpatrick started to retreat into their shell and their three-man defence quickly became five as Treacy and McGarry’s attacking urges were curtailed with Ards Rangers went for broke.
The visitors pummelled Downpatrick for a while, but they didn’t really create anything until Moore, who was now playing up front, put the ball on a plate for Ryan Brown, but he inexplicably headed the ball off the woodwork with the goal at his mercy.
Ards Rangers were punished in added time for pushing too many men forward when Tony McIlhone produced an audacious lobbed effort when he caught Gordon off his line.
Downpatrick FC: R Holland, N Teggart, M Holland, M Carson, B Holland, A Baggley, B Treacy, J McLaughlin, S Galbraith, P Traynor, A McGarry. Subs: R Kerr, B Connolly, T McIlhone.