Rathcoole 5 – 3 Ballysillan Swifts
Again it was 20 minutes of madness that spoiled the day for The Swifts on their travels.
Rathcoole away is a tough venue, but it was hoped the first team would emulate the Reserves result from earlier in the season, and bring home all 3 points.
And it looked like this could be the case in the opening exchanges with the visitors taking control and forcing the home side back, with Justy Reid, back after an injury lay-off, in goal barely seeing the ball in the first fifteen minutes.
Willie Massey had yet again been forced to reshuffle his squad because of injuries, but it was regular left back Scott Renwick who stepped up to hit a free kick from just outside the box. The ball clipped the Rathcoole skipper’s arm and sailed in to the far corner to give The Swifts the lead.
The home side tried to hit back immediately, and in the next period of the game they dominated, creating several chances, only to find Justy and defenders Renwick, Stephen Bell, Davie Smith and Craig Corrigan in top form and repelling every attack.
After this The Swifts regained the upper hand as Dave Miller, John McMullan and Bertie Johnston again started to boss the middle of the park, and even though the front three of George Gihon, Tom Scanlon and Andy Neill were working their socks off, there was no more scoring before half-time.
Rathcoole made a couple of substitutions during the break, and it was one of the subs that caused panic in the visitor’s defence, when he flicked on a corner and the home side equalised.
This was the key moment in the game because for the next 20 minutes The Swifts collapsed and allowed Rathcoole to score 4 more times. It was a total disaster considering the showing in the first half, and something the management must be finding difficult to comprehend, as it seems to happen in every game!
Ricky Billing, Scott McIntyre and Jim Aston replaced Scanlon, Miller and Johnston, and The Swifts actually rallied, having what looked a good goal chalked off before Scott McIntyre netted after causing confusion in the home defence, and Scott Renwick struck another free kick sweetly, and although, again, there was a slight deflection, there was no doubt about the destination of the shot.
Referee Alan Hayes booked several players from both sides in a tetchy game in which neither side was giving any quarter, but traditionally this is a tough game between two very evenly matched sides anyway.
Swifts’ Man of the Match was Craig Corrigan, particularly for his first half display, but he also finished the game very strongly.