Banbridge Town U17Bs edged Banbridge Rangers 3-2 in a topsy-turvy derby game at Havelock Park.
In the last fixture before the festive break, it took a late Jake Dermott effort to separate the sides after Rangers had twice been ahead.
Town handed a debut to keeper Conor Ward who re-signed for his old side, and were still without winger Jake Dennison and Sam Moore through injury.
The match kicked off with a strong wind coming into the Town boys’ faces. Rangers came flying at the Town defence, and an unfortunate slip from midfielder Jordan Walker allowed Rangers to steal the ball and put on pressure. Ryan Sloan won the ball back however his clearance was unable to erase the danger with the strong wind keeping the ball in the mix.
A late run from a Rangers midfielder met the ball and he thundered a strike in to give his team an instant lead.
The Town boys were unphased as they regrouped and began playing their football. Jordan Walker was putting himself about the middle of the park challenging for everything, partnered with Rhys Jones who was working hard to create an opportunity.
Town looked dangerous, with captain Jake Laffin and Sam McCallister combining well to pick off the Rangers defence. This told on eight minutes when McCallister gave Laffin a run on goal with a great through ball and he finished expertly to score for the fifth game running.
With the scores level, Rangers were winning the ariel challenge in the midfield and kept the pressure on. They got a second goal on 23 minutes when their striker played a one-two before curling in well from just inside the area.
The second half began with the wind now at the Town boys’ backs, and they began piling on the pressure.
Rangers were defending well, however all their clearances were hanging in the strong winds.
Liam Farrell and Jonny Rodgers were working endless down the flanks as they supported their full backs off the ball, as well as helping their forwards with an option out wide. Rhys Jones was feeding dangerous through balls for his forwards and a goal was on its way.
With the second half 15 minutes old, Jones found Rodgers down the right. He dropped his shoulder and beat his man before planting a left footed shot in for 2-2.
Town could sense a winner, and pushed up the field. Rangers partially cleared a corner to left back Jake Dermott who took a touch to set himself before having a dig from near the half way line. The keeper fumbled the ball and it landed over the line to put the Town boys ahead.
Rangers rallied and threatened in the final few minutes but some good saves from Conor Ward and a last ditch challenge from Liam Farrell epitomised the Town side’s desire for three points.
Town’s MOTM was winger Liam Farrell for his energy, tireless work and fantastic approach to the game.