RAPHOE came from two down to record an impressive Ulster Premier League win over Portadown on Saturday.
Portadown 2 Raphoe 3
A frantic first half saw all the action in an important victory for the Donegal side.
Victory sees them lift to seventh in the 12-team league, six points above their hosts. However, for the first 17 minutes the points seemed to be staying in Portadown.
With the Raphoe men arriving to the ground late the slow start was not unexpected. A scattered defensive strategy allowed Portadown easy possession in the central midfield area.
The two-man Raphoe central midfield was overran in the sixth minute as Portadown deservedly opened the scoring with a glorious deflected effort after neat interchanges allowed the Craigavon men time to lash a ball into the area.
Portadown were harshly denied a second in the 11th minute as a goal was ruled out. Still they mounted pressure on the Raphoe midfield who were unable to grasp the game.
Gavin Lecky won Raphoe a penalty corner in their only threat of a dire first quarter, but Raphoe where unable to convert.
Portadown turned the screw more as 3 minutes before the short interval they did double their lead.
The interval gave Raphoe two minutes to shuffle their tactics and deal with the midfield overload swapping from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-5-1 formation.
This tactic reaped rewards as the Donegal men were rampant in the second quarter. Tommy Orr tapped in for 2-1 as Lecky and Jonny Long combined brilliantly to leave a simple task for the teenager.
Raphoe’s next attack 4 minutes later drew the sides level as Keith Meehan broke free with the ball from his own half as Raphoe got to grips in the midfield area.
Meehan found Lecky who managed to turn his marker before a 20 metre sprint ended with the winger firing past Portadown keeper Knipe from the top of the ‘D.
As Raphoe grew more dominant in midfield Portadown looked to play longer passes directly into their forward line. This proved a difficult task as Simon Goudie, Alan Meehan and especially Ian McGonigle asserted authority and stifled any balls to reach their defensive zone.
From a turnover won by McGonigle Raphoe took the lead with four minutes left in the half. Raphoe got the ball up George Patterson who offloaded to Orr who was full of confidence.
His early shot nestled into the backboard via the post. Euphoria for the traveling side.
The second half settled much to Raphoe’s relief where for large parts they dictated play.
The biggest threat to the Raphoe lead came in the third quarter where Portadown won four penalty corners as Raphoe where playing with 10 men for five minutes.
From those 4 corners Raphoe’s defensive unit of Evan Lyttle, McGonigle, Alan Meehan and Lecky along with keeper Moore managed to charge down or save each attempt.
Jonny Long was denied a goal to extend the lead as Lee Stewart played him through on goal. Long drew a good save from the home netminder. Tom Eaton, James Wilson and Jake Watt all put in a great shift as Raphoe saw out the remaining time and return home with the three points.
Next week sees Raphoe travel to Bangor hoping to add to their run of four victories in five games.
Raphoe: D. Moore, E. Lyttle, S. Goudie, I. McGonigle, A. Meehan, K. Meehan, J. Wilson, L. Stewart, J.Watt, J. Long, G. Patterson, G. Lecky, T. Orr.