A WHITE frost covered pitch at Rivervalley Park greeted everyone on Saturday morning and while the conditions may well have been cold there was nothing but hot action on the field of play in this cracking Brenfer League Under 10 Premier clash.
Any concerns that the game might not go ahead because of the frost were quickly dispelled as the pitch thawed out and what followed was a nine goal thriller.... not surprisingly a goal fest given Rivervalley had won 4-3 when these two met earlier in the season.
And in a dramatic finale the winning goal came a minute from time when the ever impressive Lee Keeley made another great run before crossing for Jamie Kennedy to bag his second goal of the game and seal the points for the visitors.
It was rough justice on Rivervalley as in fairness such was the quality of the game that there really didn't deserve to be a loser. It was tight the whole way through with some superb goals from both sides. Rangers took the initial advantage taking the lead in the third minute when Dylan Murphy broke clear before curling home a delightfully skilful goal from a tight angle past a helpless Craig Keeley. It could've been two soon after as Adam Gavin was inches wide from long range.
But back came Sandyhill Celtic with a bang to take a 3-1 advantage, scoring three goals in the space of five minutes with some excellent play.
They equalised in the 11th minute when Kennedy converted Ryan Mangan's corner, despite 'keeper Keith Dawson almost pushing it off the line. Two minutes later they were ahead as Keeley went on a stunning run, skipping past the defence before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Dawson.
In the 16th minute they had a two goal cushion as Keeley saw his shot blocked by Dawson, but the rebound fell to Mangan who blasted home from close range.
Rivervalley responded very well with Mark Murtagh and James Keller both seeing shots saved before Murphy hit the upright. Their persistence was rewarded three minutes from the break when they reduced the deficit to one as Murtagh went on a classy mazy run through the Celtic defence before blasting past Keeley.
The second half produced more of the same action packed stuff. Murphy fired an early free kick just past the Sandyhill post, before Keeley showed his skill again breaking from his own area before seeing his shot well saved by Dawson.
At the other end Sandyhill 'keeper Keeley produced a first class save midway through the half diving full length to save one handed from Murphy.
The killer blow appeared to come midway through the half when Mangan scored his second after Luke Mason's initial shot had been saved to make it 4-2, but Rangers fighting spirit came through as they drew level.
Keeley had blocked Jack McCabe's corner, but the ball fell invitingly for Diarmuid Cavanagh who fired home for 4-3. That quickly became 4-4 when Murtagh's shot came back off the upright to and Murphy bagged his second at the second attempt.
But just as we thought that the points would be shared Kennedy popped up with a minute left to earn the visitors their second win of the season. But it was hard luck on Rangers to head home with nothing.
RIVERVALLEY RANGERS: Keith Dawson, James Keller, Adam Snell, Matthews Kearns, Adam Kavanagh, Adam Gavin, Mark Murtagh, Diarmuid Cavanagh, Jack McCabe, Dylan Murphy, Karl O'Sullivan.
SANDYHILL CELTIC: Craig Keeley, Luke Mason, Jake Prendergast, Lee Crowley, Brandon Murray, Lee Keeley, Ryan Mangan, Jamie Kavanagh, Jamie Kennedy, Darren Robinson, Gavin Doyle, Kyle Byrne.
Referee: Mark Connor.