The Irish were away from home again to play in something of a grudge match against local rivals Rangers. With warnings already coming from the League Committee regarding any poor behaviour from both sets of teams/fans this was a very tense affair. Just over 300 people attended the game at Stepford Playing Parks with The Irish having the larger crowd to drive them on.
GIFC started the game with 4 men up front and began attacking early on. Martin Rice can feel very unlucky not to have opened the scoring with some early chances. The big striker created the first goal of the game for Connor Jack when he whipped over a great cross and left winger volleyed home with his right foot to put the Irish 1-0 up.
Following the goal GIFC started to make unforced errors and Rangers scored 2 goals in quick succession following poor defensive decisions from a very shaky defence.
The Irish then proceeded to miss chance after chance and hit the woodwork 3 times in the first half alone.
Martin Rice wouldn’t give up on any through ball and he drew the game level catching onto a fine pass from his midfield and firing across the keeper to score his 3rd goal in 3 games.
Some harsh words from GIFC management during the interval had the desired effect as GIFC showed more of the level they have shown themselves to be capable of. Despite missing some early chances it was Martin Rice again who showed a touch of composure to sprint clear of the Rangers defence and shoot past the keeper with a clever finish. 3-2 GIFC.
Youngster Connor Jack then out paced the Rangers defence before chipping the ball over a helpless goalkeeper. 4-2 Irish.
Some substitutions and a change of shape seemed to steady the Irish and the goal of the night came soon after. Substitute striker Stephen Cleary took a touch some 25 yards from goal before lashing the ball into the roof of the net to send the Irish fans into massive applause. 5-2 Irish.
Martin Rice was then pulled down in the box and Connor Jack stepped up to send a class penalty into the net for number 6 and the young mans hat trick. 6-2 Irish.
The game ran out of steam after this although Rangers missed a penalty with a few minutes to spare. David Griffin saving the first of his GIFC career.
This was a game with potential for trouble but it must be said both sets of players and supporters were a credit to themselves. The return fixture should be another game to savour for both squads.
Man of the match for GIFC Martin Rice.
Other top performers were Connor Jack, David Griffin and Tony Owens.