BANBRIDGE Rangers U17s made the arduous journey to Ballymoney on Saturday in the quarter final of the Mid Ulster Cup.
Ballymoney are level with Banbridge Rangers in the league standings and it was always going to be a close affair after the 4-4 draw at the Tech last month.
The pitch and weather conditions were perfect for a game of football on Saturday morning and the away side started the brighter despite the long travelling distance with Stephen Copes linking well with the two wide players in Jordan McCracken and Nathan Copes.
Most of the opening period was played out in midfield with Mark Ball in the holding role with Dean Gordon and Jason Adamson driving through the middle of the field. Banbridge Rangers had several good efforts from set pieces with Jason Adamson testing the keeper from long range and Ben McElderry seeing a shot blocked after reacting quickest at a corner.
Ballymoney were always dangerous on the counter attack with two very fast strikers and were intent on playing the long ball into the corners but were well marshaled by the back four of McCrum, Sergeant, McElderry and Woods.
With five minutes remaining until the half Ballymoney were gifted the opening goal when Sergeant headed over keeper Adam Johnston who had been coming out to collect a long ball over the top.
The second half started brightly for the away team with some neat passing and pushing for an equaliser and were unable to take advantage of several long throws on top of the keeper from Dean Gordon.
Ballymoney got a crucial second goal of the game just over 10 minutes into the half collecting a Johnston punch inside the box with their midfielder finding the top corner.
Banbridge Rangers brought Ryan Burns on up front to push for a way back into the game with Burns heading his first chance just wide after a cross from McCrum midway through the half.
Ballymoney went and added a third goal with 15 minutes to go with a low header at a corner from the home teams centre midfielder who made a late run into the box and wasn’t picked up. Banbridge Rangers moved Nathan Stewart into a three man attack as they pushed forward leaving the back exposed and could have conceded more only for some goalkeeping heroics from Adam Johnston and a superb last ditch tackle from McElderry who was then employed as a target man in the last five minutes to see if Rangers could snatch a goal before the game drew to a close.
This Saturday Banbridge Rangers turn their attentions to the league cup group stage with their first match against current league leaders Windmill Stars, the game at the Tech kicks off at 10.30am.