The race to the Premier Division took another interesting twist after Stoneyford United and Fort Rangers played out a thrilling 3-3 draw.
With both teams level on points in the race for promotion a late, late equaliser from Fort’s Liam Forristal gave Rangers a share of the spoils following a topsy-turvy affair.
With 90 minutes on the clock United seemed certain to move three points clear in the race for second spot at a wet and windy Stoneyford on Sunday.
However, the game changed when Fort gave one last roll of the dice. The visitors got a reward for their resolve when a long throw-in found its way to the feet of Forristal. He made no mistake, smashing the ball past the impressive Brian O’Shea.
It was a dramatic end to a game which began at a frantic pace. Despite the conditions, both teams tried to play from the outset.
It took just two minutes before the home side went in front. A long throw-in from the left hand side broke to winger Joey Gahan, who gave Rangers ’keeper David Buggy no chance with a well-placed shot.
Within seconds however, Rangers were level.
Straight from kick-off the men from Danesfort won a free-kick on the left wing, which was swung in teasingly by Emmet Nugent. Some poor defending followed and the ball fell to Liam Forristal, who swivelled in the box and slotted it past the keeper. 1-1!
Chances dried up for a period as both teams struggled to find a dominating rhythm. Eamon Foley was particularly impressive in midfield for Stoneyford in the first half while Jim Nugent, playing alongside his two sons Eddie and Emmet, was in form for Fort Rangers, rolling back the years with some nice touches.
On 27 minutes Stoney’ were back in front. A free kick from the right was cleared by Eddie Nugent but only as far as Foley. Pouncing from the edge of the box, he clipped a delightful volley back over the crowded penalty area and into the top corner.
That goal stayed between the sides for the remainder of the half, but Fort Rangers levelled two minutes after the restart.
A long clearance by Eddie Nugent was misjudged by everybody except his brother Emmet, who raced into the box and lofted a header over the onrushing ’keeper.
Fort stayed on the front foot after that and dominated much of the second half. The home side had ’keeper Brian O’Shea to thank for the 2-2 scoreline, yet it was Stoneyford themselves who went in front on the hour mark.
Another Rory Delap-esque long throw from the hands of Brian Donovan was flicked on by John O’Shea and bundled over the line by Martin Murray. Claims for offside rightly dismissed by the referee.
From then on it looked like Stoneyford would take all three points, and the initiative in the promotion race. However, they squandered a number of gilt-edge chances to seal the result.
That came back to haunt them, as they succumbed to Forristal’s dramatic equaliser in the dying moments.
This promotion race will go right to the wire!
Stoneyford United: Brian O’Shea, Thomas O’Leary (Liam Walsh, 70 mins), Conor Coffey, Jamie Molyneaux, Ciaran Roche, John O’Shea, Brian Donovan, Eamon Foley, James Moran, Martin Murray, Joseph Gahan.
Fort Rangers: David Buggy, John Bambrick, John Cahill, Eddie Nugent (Dion Fitzpatrick, 85 mins), Padraig Murphy, Tony Moran, Liam Forristal, Mark Massey (Dermot Ryan, 65 mins), David Forristal, Emmet Nugent, Jim Nugent.