BANBRIDGE Rangers entertained local rivals Banbridge AFC in a league fixture at Cheney Park and ran out comfortable 10-0 winners.
The win keeps Rangers clear at the top of the league going into Saturday’s big showdown with Broomhill who are the only other realistic challengers to the title this season.
The scoring was opened by lofty teenager Matty McKnight inside 90 seconds when he headed home after a cross from the right hand side from striker Gareth Fulton.
Banbridge Rangers doubled their lead on ten minutes when Richie McMinn headed in a Neil Clydesdale corner after beating his marker to the front post. Jason Gourley kept up the relentless pressure with an effort coming back off the post two minutes later and was followed up by the AFC keeper making a save from a Clydesdale free kick.
Just after the quarter hour mark Rangers got their third goal when Gareth Fulton twisted and turned inside the box and finished coolly to keep up his recent hot streak in front of goal.
On 25 minutes Matty McKnight got his second and Rangers fourth of the day when he controlled a Gregg through ball on the midriff before volleying in from the edge of the box.
After spells of sustained possession Banbridge Rangers added a fifth before the half time interval when Trevor Tate intercepted an AFC pass and played Fulton in one on one to slot under the keeper for 5-0.
The first chance of the second half almost saw right back Jonny Porter add his name to the scoresheet with a surging run past the left back but his shot came crashing off the crossbar.
The goal of the game came from the David Beckham of Banbridge Rangers on 55 minutes. After a foul on Fulton 30 yards out Neil Clydesdale whipped a free kick over the wall and into the top corner of the net to extend the Gers lead to six.
Within two minutes Gareth Fulton rounded off his second hattrick in consecutive games after being played in one on one again after an exquisite McMinn ball down the flank. Fulton made way for Scott Lindsay to make his senior debut for the club after transferring in the January transfer window from Banbridge Town.
Just after the hour mark Jason Gourley saw a good chance to add to his goal tally evaporate when his shot rebounded off the crossbar from a tight angle. On 68 minutes a bombing run and cross from Porter was spilled the AFC keeper giving midfielder Richard McMinn the opportunity to double his goals for the day poking in the loose ball.
With fifteen minutes remaining Clydesdale almost saw a carbon copy free kick hit the top corner only for the keeper to get a hand to it. Banbridge Rangers did eventually make it nine goals through half time substitute Ryan Weir who was sent clear against the left back on a quick counter attack and rocketed past the left back before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the roof of the net from sixteen yards out.
Colin Cousins came on for the last ten minutes and set up Lindsay for a chance after a driving run to the byline with the midfielders shot just going wide off the post from the pull back. Banbridge AFC had their first clear chance off the game in the last minute when Beck was disposed out wide but Magee headed well over from inside the six yard box.
Scott Lindsay turned provided for the last and tenth goal of the game when he weighted a pass between the centre halves for Cousins who put the ball beyond the reaches of the keeper with the outside off his boot.
This was a good performance all round from a Rangers side missing five regular players with Neil Clydesdale and Gareth Fulton making significant contributions in the attacking third to increase the goal difference.
This Saturday’s big league game with Broomhill will be played at Cheney Park with kick off at 2.15pm. The Co Armagh side are the only team to beat Banbridge Rangers in the league this season so far with a 1-0 win at Richhill Recreational centre in October.