The firsts were back in action last weekend with a home game against Ballynagross at Dunleath playing fields. In a very close fought affair at Dunleath, Ballynagross ran out 3-1 winners. However, the scoreline didn’t reflect just how close this game was and the battling County side can feel slightly aggrieved to lose this very entertaining game.
In the opening minutes, County’s keeper “Cookie” McKinney was called into action when Ballnagross’s centre-forward sent in a curling effort that forced Cookie to tip the ball around the top of the right-hand post. Straight from the resulting corner Rossglass broke and almost got their noses in front when midfielder Chris Hamilton hit a thunderous shot that sailed narrowly over the bar. This set the tempo for the game and in the first twenty minutes, Ballynagross hit the post while County’s Ryan Tumelty seen his effort from a free kick on the right-hand side bounce back of the bar.
The game was fierce and competitive in midfield, with Oran Tumelty taking the brunt of some harsh tackles, but on 20 minutes it was Marc Burke who found himself in the referee’s notebook when he clattered his opposing number. This seemed to spark Burke into life. Shortly afterwards he found himself straight through on goal but as he was about to pull the trigger, the ball was nipped away from him. Both teams pushed for the opener but only for some great defending by both teams the scoreline could have been greater. Makeshift right-back Paul McGarry for County had an outstanding game in defence winning his tackles and distributing the ball with precision.
Eventually, the opener came just 5 minutes before halftime. Ballynagross forced a corner and in a scrappy melee in the box, it was tapped past the County keeper.
The second half was just as lively as the first and County came out the stronger. In what was probably the best move of the game, Barry Mageean picked up the ball in the left back position, passed the ball through the legs of the oncoming forward to Thomas Redmond at the halfway line who sent an equally exquisite pass through to Marc Burke running down the left-hand side. Redmond’s pass split the Ballynagross defence and Burke fired the ball across the five-yard box where Ben Lennon at the back post was on hand to slot the ball past the helpless keeper. It was well deserved and you felt County could go and get three valuable points. Not to be outdone Ballynagross rallied and put pressure on County’s backline which eventually paid off. There was more than a hint offside about their second goal and despite the vociferous complaints, the referee was never going to change his mind. County pushed for the equaliser once again but against the run of play, Ballynagross hit the killer punch. Poor defending allowed one of the Ballynagross midfielders to run through unchallenged and get a clear shot on goal, curling a lovely shot into the top right-hand corner beyond the outstretched hand of McKinney.
A 3-1 defeat but if Rossglass County play the rest of the season like this they should start to climb the table. Next week the team travel to Carryduff where they will be hoping to pick up three points.