A point for Town but they were unlucky not to win

Larne 1

Banbridge Town 1

BANBRIDGE Town secured an opening day point at Larne on Saturday.

In the dying minutes however they could have gone home empty handed had it not been for a couple of fine saves from Brendan Quinn.

Despite the dropped points there were a lot of positives in the game which really came to life in the last 15 minutes. Missing six regulars Larne started strongly against a very young Town side forcing two scoring opportunities in the first five minutes.

Paul Maguire who worked tirelessly throughout and could easily have bagged a hat-trick picked up and Aaron Lemon throw in on two minutes but his shot was deflected for a corner. Sencer Yilmaz then picked up an Allen Reid pass only to fire over the bar.

Maguire and Lemon combined again on fourteen minutes, this time the striker turned brilliantly but couldn’t get his shot on target.

Chris Kingsberry hit the bar with a free kick and Chris McGrath had a chance for the visitor’s moments later with a well struck 25 yard shot which was straight at Quinn.

The visitors were coming more into the game at this stage and a pass from Chris Kingsberry set up Stephen Jones who saw his goal bound shot blocked by Robbie White. Ryan Cree then glanced a header wide from a Kingsberry corner as both sides chased the opening goal.

Lemon who looks very comfortable on the ball set up another chance for Yilmaz who rose highest in the box but failed to find the target. With four minutes of the half remaining Conor Downey curled a free kick inches wide with Quinn struggling to get across his goal.

Just after the break a long clearance from Jamie Marsh saw Maguire again turn his marker before seeing his shot blocked for a corner. The missed chances were to prove costly as the visitors took the lead on fifty seven minutes.

Downey raced clear on the right flank and crossed into the path of Jones. He in turn cut the ball back to Matthew McCartan who drilled a low shot into the net. Within a minute the Reds were back on level terms.

Lemon’s shot took a deflection allowing Yilmaz to react quickest heading the ball powerfully past Kieran Maguire in the visitors goal.

After Lemon had shown great close control to force a fine save from Maguire the home side has the ball in the net but the referee ruled it out for a foul on the keeper. Yilmaz should have doubled his tally on sixty seven minutes rising to meet a Gary Workman corner he again headed wide of the mark.

With 15 minutes left Kingsberry found space in the box but was denied by a brilliant one handed save from Quinn who denied the same player a minute later. At the other end Yilmaz took a touch then released Maguire who steered his shot wide when he looked certain to score.

It wasn’t going to be Maguire’s day as he was again left one on one with the keeper having been set up by Reid but from five yards he scooped it over the bar. George Young, Yilmaz and Maguire had further chances to claim the points but mixture of poor finishing and bad luck denied them.

Quinn came to Larnes’ rescue three minutes from time racing off his line to block McCartan’s shot then watching helplessly as Downey’s chip rolled just wide of the left hand post. With seconds remaining Reid got to the byeline and crossed for Maguire who headed over the top with the goal at his mercy.

LARNE: Quinn, Marsh, Lemon, White, Carland, Reid, Workman, McClean, Yilmaz, Maguire, Young. Subs: Beggs, Monaghan, Moore, Holden, Gibbons.

BANBRIDGE: Maguire, Ferguson, Robb, Wilson, Nelson, McGrath, Jones, McCartan, Cree (Gallagher), Kingsberry, Downey. Subs: Gallagher, McBurney, McKay, Edgar, Martin.

Referee. S.Wetherall (Belfast)

- On Saturday Town host Tobermore United at Crystal Park (3pm).

United are an unknown quantity, having just been promoted from Championship 2, however they are going into the game off the back of an impressive win over Limavady United.