“A thoroughly professional performance,” concluded a jubilant Banbridge Town supporter as he left Crystal Park on Saturday afternoon.
That just about summed up another impressive display from this young Town side, who continually overcome a perceived lack of experience with a terrific fighting spirit and no lack of skill - especially at fortress Crystal Park.
Thanks to goals from Gary Boyle and James Wilson, they continued their unbeaten home league record this season with this victory over a strong Portstewart side who have been no pushovers to date. A fully fit Mark Teggart returned to the starting line-up and played a pivotal role in Town’s win adding a lot of sparkle to the midfield. Conor Downey started up front and produced his usual bustling display. Indeed it was Downey who flashed an inviting cross in front of goal after only three minutes which went agonisingly wide with the visitors defence in disarray.
Portstewart were quick to counter attack with Moody and Doherty combining well to put pressure on Town. Banbridge got the dream start they desired on six minutes with the move of the match. Mark Teggart picked out Adam Pedlow out on the left with a defence splitting pass and the latter fired a great cross to the unmarked Gary Boyle who touched home past a stranded Joel Madison. Teggart was proving a real thorn in the side to the Seasiders and was close to doubling Banbridge’s lead on 14 minutes after wriggling his way through.
Portstewart had no answer to Teggart’s early promptings and on 19 minutes he was the architect in sending Town into a 2 - 0 lead. His thunderbolt effort was stopped by Madison only for Banbridge full-back James Wilson to react quicker than anyone to slot the ball home for a well taken opportunistic goal.
The visitors worked hard to get back into the game and centre forward Todd was off target on 26 minutes after McAllister had found him 12 yards from goal. Winger Doherty cut in and tested Town ‘keeper Stephen Cairnduff after 33 minutes with a strong ground shot which the keeper safely held. Three minutes later Adam Pedlow sent a teasing swerving volley inches over after leaving a couple of defenders in his wake.
Ricky Dunlop shot was just past the upright on 46 minutes for Portstewart but Town soon consolidated. A terrific 50 yard run from James Wilson saw the full-back find Gary Boyle with his cross after 64 minutes. However, Boyle’s overhead kick was saved by Madison.
Mattie McCartan was having a very dominant game in Town’s midfield and was unlucky on 80 minutes when his 20 yard volley was cleared off the line by Portstewart No 2 Gawne. Sub Paul Walsh saw a typical piledriver well held by Madison and on 85 minutes Mattie McCartan once again won the ball in midfield and sent Gary Boyle racing through. However the Striker’s effort was saved by Madison.
Another impressive three points for the home side and the kind of reaction to the dropping of two points last week that will please manager Ryan Watson.
BANBRIDGE TOWN: Cairnduff, Waddell, Wilson, Greene, Buchanan, McParland, Teggart, McCartan, Downey, Boyle, Pedlow. Subs: Walsh (Teggart 71), O’Neill (Downey 80), Kernoghan (Pedlow 88), Baird, Mallon.
PORTSTEWART: Madison, Gawne, Campbell, Peden, Neill, Forgrave, McAllister, Moody, Todd, Dunlop, Doherty. Subs: Austin (Dunlop 75), Taylor, Murray (Campbell 45), McGowan (Todd 80), Turner.