Banbridge Rangers’ 11 game unbeaten run came to an end on Friday evening when they visited the Newry Showgrounds.
After having beaten Newry in the last two encounters between the sides, the home team had a point to prove and played to their strengths on the expansive pitch and ran out deserved winners.
Newry opened the scoring after nine minutes when a free kick was whipped into the box with keeper Chris Davison opting to punch instead of catch, unfortunately the punch was down into a melee of players and when the ball fell fortuitously to Mark Lowry he drilled low to make it 1-0.
Rangers should have been level three minutes later when Andy Mallen nutmegged the Newry left back Sean Hand before curling an inch perfect cross onto the head of Jerry Philip but his powerful header fizzed inches over the bar from six yards. Lowry and Fay were proving constant threats out wide for Newry and only for a well timed recovery tackle from Frazer on Lowry in the 18th minute Newry could have doubled their lead.
Newry controlled much of the first half with Sean McMullan going close with an effort from the edge of the box but it was influential midfielder Jimmy Walker who would set up Newry’s second goal in the 31st minute. Walker had picked up a ball from McCaul inside the Rangers half and threaded a weighted ball between the backline for Chris Fay and he slotted home at the near post.
Each team had one good opportunity before the break with a deep corner seeing Philip head back across goal but nobody was able to convert, then on the counter attack Fay forced a good save from Davison and the rebound was gathered comfortably.
The opening fifteen minutes of the second half was more competitive with Rangers looking to get to grips with Newry’s dominant central midfield and a couple of bookings were picked up by each team. The important goal of the game arrived just before the hour mark with Newry able to extend their lead to 3-0 when a McMullan shot spun to the back post and Fay outjumped Sergeant to nod in.
Despite Andy Mallen fizzing one past the post from the restart it was Newry who were able to dictate the play and counter attacked at pace to score their second goal in less than four minutes with former Warrenpoint Town forward Sean McMullan having the easiest of tap ins.
The next twenty minutes were always going to be about pride and Banbridge Rangers started to play most of their fluent football with Andy Mallen pulling the strings after a quite opening sixty minutes. Stuart Mallen fired just over from an acute angle in the 69th minute and substitute Jonny Porter had a penalty appeal waved away soon after when he was bundled over in the box. Porter looked the biggest threat for Rangers late on and after beating keeper Murphy his shot was cleared off the line by Niall Crilly.
As it transpired Newry City were awarded the only penalty of the game when Chris Chambers brought down Fay inside the box with a reckless challenge out of frustration. With Fay on his hat-trick he stepped up to take the spot kick but Davison dived low to his right and saved well. This was Davison’s fifth penalty faced in normal time this season and he is yet to concede any of them.
Newry were able to reduce the gap to four points behind Rangers who remain in fourth position in the Intermediate A standings with five games remaining. This weekend there are no scheduled fixtures for either of the senior teams at the club and will return to action with a double header against Broomhill.
BRFC Team: Chris Davison, Kyle Sergeant (Matthew McCrum ’81), Ryan Gregg, Chris Chambers, William Frazer (Jonny Porter ’66), Adam Beattie, Colin Cousins (c), Jonny O’Neill, Stuart Mallen, Andy Mallen & Jerry Philip (Matthew Dodds ’83).