RAPHOE maintained their place at the top of the Ulster Senior Leagu section one with a slim win over Queen’s University at the Royal &
Prior on Saturday.
QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY 2
The side coached by David Buchanan were full value for their victor but having not been able to get into a comfortable position, were always living precariously. Gavin Lecky scored twice before William Kilpatrick’s third, which ultimately proved to be the winner.
Stuart McQueen, in the dying moments, saw Johnny Rankin save his piledriver. The stop denied McQueen a third of the afternoon and the visitors a point.
Raphoe, who started the New Year with an historic win in the Linden Cup and then a 1-1 draw last weekend in the league against Portadown, began in lively fashion against a side that had failed to win all season.
Right from the start they penned Queen’s back and were rewarded in less than four minutes, thanks to the Lecky brothers.
After Gavin Lecky had rifled a shot towards goal that visiting goalkeeper Johnny Bell managed to turn around the post, the hosts got their noses in front. Matthew Lecky did the spadework down the right and having slalomed a couple of tackles squared unselfishly for Gavin Lecky to tap into the empty net.
Raphoe continued to operate on the front foot. George Patterson fizzed a shot just wide of the post as a second goal to appease the home support certainly looked more than a distinct possibility.
However, when the second goal did arrive, on 25 minutes, it proved to be a leveller. Johnny Rankin was a virtual spectator until then but the Raphoe No 1 was soon picking the ball from his net when a penalty corner was perfectly executed by Queen’s.
Andy Dickson provided the delivery and after Adam Gowdie had laid the ball on a plate, McQueen opted for height and his gamble paid off.
Within a minute Raphoe were almost in front again and after a precise and inventive turn Matthew Lecky’s shot that was bound for the corner was excellently saved by Bell. It was a fine piece of play from both parties.
Just before half-time, though, the league leaders got their noses in front. The first half was just about to come to a conclusion as William Kilpatrick was the willing assistant for Gavin Lecky’s second goal of the afternoon.
Lecky was in the right place at the right time again but even the goalscorer’s celebration, as he sought out Kilpatrick to show his gratitude for the opportunity. Raphoe led 2-1 at the break but knew there was work to be done.
Kilpatrick ought to have made it 3-1 barely three minutes into the second half. Following a flowing Raphoe move, one that included contributions from Ian McGonigle, George Patterson and Gavin Leckey; the latter provided an opening for Kilpatrick at a vacant back post, only for him to skew wide.
Keith Meehan and Matthew Lecky also saw further chances come and go but there was a communal sigh of relief in chilly Raphoe when they team managed to go 3-1 in front with 48 minutes played. Kilpatrick made up for his previous miss when the slotted home after some nifty footwork following good approach play from Matthew Lecky and Patterson.
The three points were never guaranteed and with 10 minute remaining, Raphoe given reason to fret when their lead was reduced. From a shor corner, McQueen again got the better of Rankin when Dickson and Adam Gowdie laid the foundations.
As time ran thin, Raphoe were unable to follow their natural instincts and push for another goal and seemed to focus on maintaining what they had. The policy proved to be a worthwhile one but there were a few fractious moments, none more so than when Rankin saved excellently to deny McQueen what would’ve been his hat-trick.
North Down Mens, the side currently second behind Raphoe, will visit the Royal & Prior on Saturday in a match that will go a long way to deciding who tops the table come the season’s end.
Raphoe: Johnny Rankin, Rodney Bates, Rodney Lyttle, Alan Meehan,
William Kilpatrick, Matthew Lecky, Ian McGonigle, Keith Meehan,
Georget Patterson, Gavin Lecky, Johnny Long, Simon Gouchie. David
Buchanan (coach), Richard Tinney (manager).
Queen’s University: Johnny Bell, Stuart McQueen, Robert Johnstone,
David Cummins, Tom Harris, Andy Dickson, Stewart Cartrill, Ross Blair,
Adam Gowdie, Callum Mitchell, Stephen Forrest.