Belfast Telegraph

Ards Rangers put on the spot by progressive Derriaghy

By MARTIN MAWHINNEY

Ards Rangers manager Lee Forsythe believes Derriaghy CC have everything it takes to establish themselves as a top Premier Division side, after they pushed his team all the way in their Clarence Cup quarter-final at the weekend.

The Division 1A leaders are only a matter of games away from potentially sealing their place in the Amateur League’s top flight next season, but Forsythe already feels he has seen enough to suggest they will be worthy league opponents next season.

Rangers won their quarter-final tie on penalties in the end… but their manager was forced to admit they did well to take it that far, even after having taken the lead.

Forsythe said: “They should be in the Premier Division next season, and they will definitely be a threat. They are a good side, and gave us a tougher game than a lot of Premier sides have done.

“We were on top in the first half, and probably right up to when Gary Sharatt put us 1-0 up on the hour mark. We had a few chances to get a second goal, but when they got theirs from a corner with 10 minutes left, they were the better side right through to the end of extra time. We were probably lucky that it went to penalties.”

That said, Forsythe admitted that he wasn’t exactly oozing with confidence about the prospect of spot-kicks, as clearly, neither were his players.

He said: “We definitely didn’t want penalties. Most of the boys who would have taken them either weren’t playing on Saturday or weren’t still on the pitch.

“I asked all the players who wanted to take a penalty and only Ryan Newberry, Gary Sharratt and Ricky Rutherford volunteered. They all scored theirs and Willy McBurney missed his, but thankfully our goalkeeper Dee Harrison scored the fifth and Derriaghy missed theirs, otherwise I don’t know who’d have taken the fifth!”

As for Rangers’ league aspirations… they may be on top of the pile at the minute, but with Crumlin Star just 11 points behind and with a massive EIGHT games in hand, he feels the title is theirs to lose.

Forsythe stated: “Any talk of us being in the title race this season is just Pie in the Sky nonsense. Crumlin Star have the experience of winning league titles and trophies – they won a treble last season, and beat us in the Clarence Cup final last year – and I think they’ll win the league comfortably this year.

“We have back-to-back league games against them coming up, but I don’t think they will be title deciders.”

This year’s semi-final line-up is looking like one of the strongest yet, with Ards Rangers set to play Immaculata - who beat Nortel 3-0 - and Dunmurry Rec - who defeated Tullycarnet 2-0 - drawn against Drumaness Mills – whose 3-1 victory over Larne Tech OB secured their last-four berth.          

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