Ford boss John McGrath demands more despite comfortable cup victory
Bangor Rangers 0 Ford 4
He may have just watched his team cruise to a comfortable 4-0 Cochrane Cup win over Division 2A rivals, but Ford manager John McGrath wasn't exactly smiling from ear-to-ear when the full time whistle sounded.
By the long-serving gaffer’s own admission, Ford weren’t at their best in this comprehensive victory, but the simple fact was that they didn’t need to be.
Watching Saturday’s second round clash, it was easy to forget that on the opening day of the season, Bangor Rangers recorded one of only two victories from ten league games so far against Ford, but McGrath is still demanding better from his players as they approach a crucial part of their campaign.
He stated: “We are lacking a bit of confidence. There was a massive difference between our first 60 minutes today, and the last 20 minutes, when we came good. We set a standard for ourselves, and when we don’t reach that standard consistently enough, I get frustrated.
“This puts us in the last 16 of the Cochrane Corry, we are already in the last 32 of the Junior Shield, but we have a big game in this competition now against one of the best sides at our level, Rosemount Rec – though we have played them twice, and beaten them twice.
“Two or three years ago, we were in the semi-final of the Junior Shield, Junior Cup and Cochrane Corry Cup, and we ended up not reaching a final, so that is something we are determined to put right.”
That determination was clear for all to see when Ford took an early lead in the fourth minute.
David Frazer collected the ball from Gerard Leckey before looping a shot over the out-coming Aaron Andrews, to set the tone for what followed.
However, instead of turning the screw, Ford proceeded to miss chance after chance, giving Rangers at least a glimmer of hope.
A misdirected Joseph Rainey shot was followed up by a dangerous Colin Toal header tipped over well by Andrews, and then a wayward Darren Bellew header.
All Rangers could offer in response was a 17th minute free kick from Jonathan Miller into the wall, then another from the same source minutes later, but this time it was met by Stephen Willis, who guided a header short of the target.
At the other end, Frazer was on the end of an ear-bashing from his team-mates, as he twice chose to shoot rather than cross. On both occasions, his efforts were easily saved by the Rangers goalkeeper.
Andrews was, however, almost culpable in the 38th minute, as his hurried clearance presented the perfect opportunity for Jim Peoples, but thankfully for Rangers, the Ford striker’s effort was just as rushed, as he thrashed it wide.
Ford’s frustration was evidently growing, but Rangers were failing to capitalise; a fact agonisingly underscored by John Maxwell, as he smashed the ball over the bar after he’d been put through on goal by Craig Mayne, who had done so well to hit the visitors on the counter-attack.
Instead, it was Ford who once again found the clinical side of their game, and Leckey netted the best goal of the game in the 61st minute, shooting high into the roof of the net from a clever Frazer pass.
This seemed to be the deciding moment in the game, and Rangers knew it. Sensing blood, Ford followed up with a third goal just four minutes later. The hosts were left short at the back, and Peoples took the ball past Chris Reaney with ease, then curled it past the helpless Andrews.
The result wrapped up, Ford could have played down the remaining time, but to their credit, they remained hungry, and notched a deserved fourth in the 86th minute. The on-form Peoples, eager to add to his earlier strike, got his wish as he broke free and slotted into the bottom right hand corner to complete an afternoon to remember for his team – and one for Bangor Rangers to forget.
Defeated manager Stephen Ferris said: “We had spells, but we didn’t score goals, and when you don’t score goals, you don’t win matches. Their second goal, against the run of play, killed us off.
“We had four players sent off last week, so we were always going to be up against it. We brought three 17-year-olds on today, Cameron Ferris, Robson McCracken and Kyle Johnston and they gave 100 per cent – you can ask no more than that.
“It would have been nice to have got a win today, but the league is what really matters for us now. We have already played half of our games, and only have only got six points from a possible 30, so we know are facing a relegation battle.
“Seven of our remaining games are still at home though, and that’s where we pick up our points. The boys are good enough to keep us up... if they can put the ball in the net.”
Aaron Andrews: Four goals conceded tells its own tale. 5
Cameron Ferris: Broke quickly from the back line. 6
Robson McCracken: Passing could have been better at times. 5
John McGahey: Not afraid to get forward. 6
Stephen Willis: Won’t be his best performance of the season. 5
Chris Reaney: Generally dependable, but was caught out for Ford’s third. 6
Craig Mayne: Usually involved whenever Rangers got forward. 6
Kyle Johnston: Drifted in and out of the game. 5
John Maxwell: Didn’t test the keeper as often as he’d have liked. 6
Courtney Marsh: Found good positions, but little end product. 5
Jonathan Miller: Good pace and movement. 6
Jon Stephenson: Not used
Andrew McIlveen: On for Miller, 67
Stephen Ferris: Not used
James Murphy: Not particularly busy, but did what he needed to do. 7
Gerard Cunningham: Didn’t let his team-mates down. 7
Manuel Donaghy: Steady and accomplished performance. 8
Michael Flannigan: Provided good support for set-pieces. 7
Colin Toal: Stood his ground well: 7
Darren Bellew: A good engine helped push Ford forward. 8
Gerard Leckey: Every throw as good as a corner. 8
Anthony Byrne: Passing overall was of a good standard. 7
Jim Peoples: Bright and energetic front-man. 8
David Frazer: Razor-sharp instincts gave his side an early lead. 8
Joseph Rainey: Carried a fair attacking threat. 7
John Matthews: On for Cunningham, 68
Tony Burns: On for Frazer. 62
Mark Nolan: On for Byrne. 62
MAN OF THE MATCH: Jim Peoples (Ford). His two goals contributed to a fine win for Ford.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Gerard Leckey’s lethal finish, Ford’s second of the game, was as clinical as it was decisive.
SAVE OF THE MATCH: Aaron Andrews’ finger-tip save from a Colin Toal header, early in the match.
BLOOPER OF THE MATCH: It’s hard to know which was the bigger error – Andrews’ lay-off to Peoples or the Ford striker’s subsequent miss.
Belfast Telegraph Digital