Southside maintain title bid with win over neighbours

Southside Rangers players pictured at the club's fund-raising concert in the Braid last week.

Southside Rangers players pictured at the club's fund-raising concert in the Braid last week.

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Southside Rangers maintained their challenge at the top of the South Belfast Youth League with a 4-2 ‘derby’ win over Antrim Rovers on Friday night.

It was Southside, inspired by captain Dylan Graham, who drew first blood when a pass for Dylan found ace striker Sam McNiece inside the penalty area.

Sam was pulled to the ground as he rounded his marker and from the spot kick he rifled the ball past the Antrim keeper to put Southside 1-0 up. It was soon 2-0 when McNiece turned provider this time crossing from the right he found the head of Connor Pogue who rose high above the Antrim defence to perfectly place his header beyond the reach of the keeper.

The game could have been all over inside the first half hour had the chances created been taken. Ryan Corrigan could not believe his luck when his headed effort hit the keeper and went wide.

A perfect pass from the tireless Josh McCready released Richard Wilson through on goal but his effort was saved while McNiece headed over from close range.

In a rare excursion up field Antrim were given a lifeline goal just before the half when a speculative hit from distance somehow surprised Stuart Wylie in the Southside goal and the ball looped over his head into the net.

Antrim built on this good fortune and combined with Southside showing some complacency they got right back into the game on 50 minutes when Connor Pogue’s clearance ricocheted off an incoming Antrim player and ended up in the back of the net.

The crucial next goal went Southside’s way as Richard Wilson broke through the centre of the Antrim defence to calmly slot home the ball low into the bottom corner past the Antrim keeper. His goal celebration typified the importance of the result to both teams.

As Southside drove forward looking for a fourth it arrived on the hour mark when the prolific McNiece headed home in a crowded goalmouth sending the large crowd of Southside followers into ecstasy and Colin Stewart’s boys dominated the closing stages to ensure a crucial three points.

Southside: Wylie, Kirk, Allen, Pogue, Williams, Graham(C), McCready, Wilson, Corrigan, Hogg, McNiece, McDowell, Kennedy, Erwin, J Stewart, R Stewart.