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NEFL | Rock continue climb up the table


Ten man Rock scored a last gasp winner to make it three wins on the spin to continue their surge up the North East premier table to now share third place with Carrick while plunging the losers deeper into relegation trouble on Sunday at Flynn Park.

his was the Peninsula’s side fourth successive defeat when they looked like they might salvage a precious point in a game that Rock on the run of play and the chances deserved to win, but made it tough for themselves by having a player sent-off after taking the lead in the second-half.

They failed to capitalise on a handful of clear-cut chances in the first 45 minutes when they dominated play. Bellurgan was restricted to a single scoring opportunity when Stephen Finnegan threaded the ball through middle of the visitors defence sending Conor Maguire straight through after 25 minutes. His touch as he went past the Rock goalkeeper was too heavy and allowed the latter to get back and block his shot for a corner kick.

The home side went in level to the break thanks to goalkeeper Robert Arthur who was responsible for keeping it scoreless with three or four excellent saves.

The second half was much more even as Bellurgan got going. They again had to turn to manager Alan Connor and John Smith to form a makeshift central defensive partnership, with a centre-half crisis, losing both their young regulars, Daimanas Cerneckis and Matthew Rihanda, and being without the vastly experienced Ray Finnegan. They also had Owen Armstrong and Tadgh O’Connor out through suspension.

The manager only lasted 30 minutes, having to come off injured, and was replaced by Jake McArdle. In the circumstances John Smith really rose to the challenge in an unaccustomed position to give a Man of the Match display.

Despite their improved play Rock went ahead, a due reward for how the game had gone. San Hand played a long ball over the top of the home defence for substitute Ronan Sands to race onto and slotted it past Arthur.

The game then took a dramatic turn as Fergal Carroll was introduced for Rock, but he only lasted ten minutes, picking up two yellow cards in that time, and consequently was dismissed, leaving the Seasiders to play the last 20 minutes with a player short.

Bellurgan exploited their numerical advantage, and after Luke Higgins had a goal bound shot from seven yards blocked, Stephen Finnegan struck for the equaliser five minutes from the end.

Left full Chris Lawson found the mid-fielder outside the 18 yard box and he swivelled and hit a first time shot to the net.

Bellurgan sought to press for a needed victory with their precarious position, but instead Rock caught them on the break. Hand again was the architect, picking the ball up in mid-field. He lofted it over the home defence for Barry O’Hare to race free and as Arthur advanced and hesitated, the striker chipped the ball over him into the empty net. There was just about enough time to re-start when the referee blew the full-time whistle.

Rock: David Hayes, Liam O’Callaghan, Adrian Rafferty, Jason Mok, Oran Duffy, Conor Soraghan (Ronan Sands 55), Sean Hand, Jack Reid, Cillian Duffy, Aaron Comerford (Fergal Carroll 60) Barry O’Hare).

Bellurgan: Robert Arthur, Owen Traynor, Alan Connor (Jake McArdle 30), John Smith, Chris Lawson, Conor Watters, Stephen Finnegan, Shane O’Brien (Sean Murden 65), Joe Needham (Andrew Byrne 75), Luke Higgins, Conor Maguire.

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