Banbridge Rangers progressed to the Quarter Finals of the Premier Cup with a 3-2 win away to AFC Craigavon on Saturday past.
The Gers scored three very well taken goals in an open game but one that the away team did more than enough in to win.
Mark Wilton and Jeff Brady made their first competitive starts of the season and made up the central midfield partnership on Saturday whilst Colin Cousins and William Frazer returned to the flanks to complete an entirely different midfield four from last weeks game against Loughgall.
Both teams had good opportunities to score early on but it was the Gers who took the lead when Jonny O’Neill outmuscled his opponent in the middle of the park before releasing Jonny Porter down the right wing. When Porter’s low cross was only cleared to the edge of the box captain Coly Cousins was on hand to bend his shot into the far corner with the outside of his boot.
Banbridge Rangers controlled much of the game with AFC content to use any opportunity to counter attack but on 35 minutes the Gers doubled their lead through Andy Mallen. Left winger Willie Frazer had cut inside his marker and attempted to pick out the run of Gracey but when the intercepted ball went loose Andy Mallen came on to it like a steam train and cracked the underside of the crossbar with a sweetly struck drive.
As Rangers looked to put the game to bed they were caught out by a cross field ball five minutes before the half and a deft cushioned lay off allowed AFC striker Colin Grimley a run on goal and he blasted into the roof of the net.
The second half began in controversial fashion as Rangers hit the byline from the restart with Frazer’s cross only needing to be headed in by Gracey from a yard out but an AFC defender managed to clear it off the line with his forearm but unfortunately the referee was in a poor position to make the call.
On the hour mark Rangers restored their two goal advantage when Mark Wilton displayed an exceptional piece of skill by chipping the keeper from just over thirty yards after the AFC Craigavon stopper had left his line to make a clearance.
The game was brought to life for the final quarter of an hour after Grinley glanced in a header for Craigavon’s second goal after a cross from the right hand side.
Despite a few off the ball incidents the away team kept their composure to see out the win and progress to the Quarter Finals of the Premier Cup. The Gers have to wait on the winners of Seapatrick and Newry City AFC but will have the advantage of a home tie.
This weeks game will take place on Friday evening as Banbridge Rangers travel to The Showgrounds to take on Newry City AFC in the Mid Ulster FA Cup.
Kick off will be at 7.45pm and any Banbridge Rangers supporters are advised to make use of the away turnstiles. All children Under 16 are free of charge so come along and show BRFC your support.
Banbridge Rangers Team: Andy Harker, Jonny Porter, Jonny O’Neill, Christopher Chambers, Aaron Buchanan, Colin Cousins (c), Mark Wilton (Richard McMinn ‘80), Jeff Brady (Bradley Hughes ‘68), William Frazer, Andy Mallen & Kenny Gracey.