Sunday 23 April 2017

Fergal's fight back

Rathnew throw away a two-goal cushion

DANIEL GORMAN At Shamrock Park, Rathnew

RATHNEW AFC B were their own worst enemies on Sunday afternoon as they threw away a two-goal lead in the last 17 minutes to drop two points.

The Villagers had taken an early lead only to be pegged back but they then went 3-1 ahead with 21 minutes remaining, only to throw it all away against St. Fergal's.

Keith Doyle's opener was cancelled out by a Luke Barry penalty inside the opening 15 minutes.

Jason Devlin then struck on 57 minutes and his side's lead was doubled when Johnny Byrne crashed home a perfect free kick. It seemed like they were on course for a comfortable three points but Barry reduced the arrears as he scored a free kick of his own and then with three minutes of normal time remaining 69th minute substitute Glen Joyce fired home from close range to steal a point for the Bray side.

Rathnew went into this clash with an unbeaten record and they were in no mood to surrender it as they set off in hunt for an early goal, which they surely accomplished.

John Sayer's eighth minute corner found Devlin and his fierce header had to be tipped onto the crossbar and over by Alan Hughes. From the resultant corner, Devlin once again wriggled free of his man but this time his header went wide. So Fergal's couldn't say they weren't warned when three minutes later Devlin all but gave his side the lead.

A clever free kick routine saw John Sayer loft the ball in the gap between Hughes and his defence and with the netminder hesitant, Devlin bravely stuck out a leg to nudge the ball past him. Mark Doyle then ensured the matter as he drilled the ball home just before it could trickle over the goal-line.

But within five minutes, we were all-square again. The ball was played into Fergal's captain Ian Flanagan's feet in the penalty area and as the winger looked to spin into space he was clipped and referee Paul O'Brien did his civic duty and pointed to the spot. Luke Barry consequently fired past Edward Doyle from 12 yards, despite the Rathnew custodian guessing the right way.

Keith Doyle had already cheekily bagged one goal but he should have added to his tally when Mark Doyle's wellmeasured dink released him, his thunderous half volley was parried by Hughes and although he was the first to the rebound, he contrived to blaze wide and let out a yelp in disbelief after doing so.

Doyle was then making noises of a different kind when he was clipped by Barry Brennan as he looked to run free of the Fergal's defence.

The striker stayed on his feet only to lose possession seconds later and he made it clear to O'Brien that he felt action should have been taken.

A win for either side on Sunday would have seen them steal top spot from St. Patrick's and Fergal's striker Kieran Conway will be very frustrated that he couldn't supply a victory, particularly after nodding Justin Melia's left wing cross off the post.

The woodwork was still recovering when Rathnew got their noses back in front. Sayer's free kick was tipped over by Hughes and when Johnny Byrne swung in the ensuing corner, Devlin snuck behind his man to plant a header to the back of the net.

And it looked like Rathnew would be celebrating a third league triumph when Johnny Byrne's perfectly pinpoint free kick clipped the inside of the post before spinning over the line.

There were a few chapters left in this drama though and when Flanagan was clattered to the floor on the edge of the Rathnew box, Barry sniffed an opportunity and he grabbed it as he leathered the free kick home. Game on, again.

Mark Doyle was the scorer of a hat-trick in his side's victory over Greystones United but the striker couldn't wrap up the win when he was presented with a golden opportunity. Fergal's winger Gary Messitt played a blind back pass that Doyle raced onto but with just Hughes to beat, his curling effort finished a lot closer to the corner flag than he would have expected.

And that came back to haunt him with three minutes remaining. After Rathew spurned the chance to clear their lines, the ball ricocheted to Joyce and he snapped the chance up, firing in low and to the corner.

Top Form: Jason Devlin (Rathnew): So commanding.

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