Raphoe travelled to Newforge sporting complex yesterday to take on second placed PSNI knowing a win would take them level on points with their opponents, with a game in hand.
The Donegal men faced a tough task as this was only their second match in seven weeks and couldn’t afford to start the game slow.
The Raphoe men got off to a great start when Ryan Macbeth got the 1st of his hat trick, a tap-in after a pass from Matthew Lecky from the right.
The visitors got a second soon after when a high press from the Raphoe front line forced a mistake from the PSNI defence and Matthew Lecky walked into the top of the circle and rounded the goalkeeper before firing the ball into the back of the net.
Raphoe took a two-nil lead into the second quarter.
PSNI got back into the match, however, when Raphoe failed to push on from their good start to the match.
And the almost two months without a match started to show when some sloppy play led to PSNI getting back in the game by pulling a goal back from a short corner.
PSNI would soon be on level terms when a short corner routine led to a penalty stroke and, despite Moore’s best effort, the ball just squeezed over the line to leave it 2-2 at halftime.
At the start of the third quarter, Raphoe conceded again, when PSNI won possession on the half way line – again a Raphoe mistake leading to the goal.
They countered down the right wing, working the ball well to find a player free inside the circle to finish low into the visitor’s goal. Raphoe now found themselves 3-2 down after a great start to the game.
It wasn’t long though until Raphoe got back on level terms when Keith Meehan got the ball on the left wing and found Sam McKnight with a great thread through the defence.
McKnight then tried to find a teammate amongst the crowd of defenders and the ball fell to the Raphoe captain Evan Lyttle.
His shot from a tight angle came off the post and fell kindly for Ryan MacBeth at the back post for his 2nd of the game.
The winner came from an aerial ball from Raphoe defender Goudie. A neat touch from Tom Eaton in midfield led to the ball making its way to Jonny Long who drove towards the PSNI goal.
Once in the circle, he passed the ball through two defenders to set man of the match Macbeth up for his hattrick.
The final quarter saw PSNI pushing hard to get something from the game and it saw a few cards for both teams, with Sam McKnight, Matthew Lecky and Simon Goudie all picking up 2min Green cards for breaking down play.
Raphoe held onto their lead and the win which now leaves them joint second in the league with PSNI, and one point behind Portrush.
Raphoe has a game in hand on both and travel to Antrim Forum next Saturday to play Antrim.
Raphoe: D Moore; M. Lecky; L. Stewart; S. Goudie; A. Meehan; S. McKnight; E. Lyttle; T. Eaton; K. Meehan; J. Long; R. Macbeth; G. Patterson and I. Blackburn.
Sponsors – Railway Gym
Coach – R. Tinney