Banbridge Rangers keep impressive run going to move fourth in the league

Banbridge Rangers v AFC Craigavon: An aerial Andy Mallen �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1505-254PB
Banbridge Rangers v AFC Craigavon: An aerial Andy Mallen �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1505-254PB

Banbridge Rangers kept their impressive league form going in Intermediate A with another win on Saturday to make it a return of 19 points from their last seven games.

The Gers moved into fourth place in the standings and travel to Lisburn this Saturday to take on league leaders Ballymacash Rangers in a crunch fixture.

Banbridge Rangers v AFC Craigavon: Jonny Porter �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1505-255PB

Banbridge Rangers v AFC Craigavon: Jonny Porter �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1505-255PB

Rangers came out of the traps flying at Lakeview Park in Craigavon and only for a point blank save after 90 seconds from an Andy Mallen strike it could have been the perfect start.

Midway through the half saw Chris Chambers sting the hands of the AFC keeper with a driven free kick from thirty yards and ten minutes before the interval Mallen went close to opening the scoring in a poor half of football on a saturated pitch.

The game sparked into life six minutes after the turnaround when the AFC keeper scuffed a goalkick straight to Jerry Philip who drove forward with Andy Mallen picking up a pass on the left hand side of the box before smashing past the keeper at his near post.

AFC Craigavon had offered little in attack up to this point but the goal had seen a change in mentality and almost immediately they flashed a header wide from ten yards.

Banbridge Rangers v AFC Craigavon:William Frazer �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1505-257PB

Banbridge Rangers v AFC Craigavon:William Frazer �Paul Byrne Photography INBL1505-257PB

On 59 minutes AFC equalised through a superb strike from their key midfielder Martin Lavery who picked up a quick throw on the left wing before checking inside and finding the top corner from 25 yards to level the scores.

The disappointment was etched on keeper Chrissy Davison’s face who had conceded his first goal in 392 minutes of play and is proving to be the stability the back four have been craving for along with holding midfielder Jonny O’Neill.

On 66 minutes AFC were awarded a penalty after their striker went over the outstretched leg of Chambers. Davison faced his third penalty of the season in nomal play and kept the record of no goals against when Lavery blasted over the bar.

In a tense final 20 minutes it could have gone either way but it was to be a stroke of genius from Andy Mallen which would tip the game in favour of the away side.

Younger brother Stuarty was tripped on the edge of the box and not for the first time this season Andy stepped up and curled the free kick into the very top corner to cap a man of the match display.

Mallen almost scored a superb third in the 83rd minute when he trapped a keepers kick out before driving forward and whipping a shot which fizzed inches over.

In stoppage time the Gers wrapped up all three points when an AFC corner was cleared to the halfway line with striker Jerry Philip bursting past the last defender with pace and power before slotting past the keeper to also keep up an incredible record which has seen the big St Lucian score in every league game in which he has played this season.

Saturday’s league game at Ballymacash will kick off at 2.15pm.

BRFC Team: Chrissy Davison, Jonny Porter, Chris Chambers, Ryan Gregg, William Frazer, Colin Cousins (c), Jonny O’Neill, Adam Beattie (Kyle Sergeant ‘54), Stuart Mallen, Andy Mallen, Jerry Philip.