Banbridge Town ..................2
BANBRIDGE Town secured their first league win of 2011 on Saturday with a surprise victory over Larne at Crystal Park.
Town’s win ends Larne’s unbeaten run and also gives the locals a remarkable chance of surviving in Championship 1.
The visitors announced their intentions early when centre forward Craig latched on to a misplaced McCartan pass to force a scrambling save from Buchanan in Town’s goal.
The home side counter attacked and a Brady corner flashed across goal begging for the slightest touch. It was a spirited opening from understrength Town and they belied their underdogs status by creating several half-chances with ace defender Copeland almost getting on the end of a 13th minute Stewart free-kick. Adam Rodgers (having his first start on his loan from Portadown) was showing well at left-back and midfield men Grant and Stewart chased and hassled throughout the entire game. White tried his luck with a 40 yard free-kick for the visitors after 18 minutes but his effort was well wide. Town were denied a penalty after 22 minutes when young James Wilson was blatantly taken out in the “area” but to everyone’s amazement the Referee waved play on with the diminutive winger sprawled on the ground. Larne’s Willie McBurney swung a dangerous Left wing cross from way out on the bye-line which hugged the crossbar before going wide after 32 minutes. Despite their latest winning streak Larne were disappointing and it was “makeshift” Town who dictated matters and certainly looked the hungrier of the two teams. Grant tested Henry with a good shot on the turn after 35 minutes that had the visiting ‘keeper scramble across goal to clear. One minute later Town took a deserved lead when after good work down the left from Brady and McArdle the latter’s cross was headed back into the goalmouth by Grant and stabbed into his own net by the back tracking Brown as he attempted a clearance. If Larne were rocked by this setback they were left reeling in the 38th minute when Referee Marshall awarded a penalty for Town having spotted a handball in the box. It did appear a soft award but Grant didn’t look a gift horse in the mouth and gratefully dispatched his spot kick past Henry to give the Town a terrific 2 - 0 half time lead. On 52 minutes a Jeff Brady thunderbolt was headed away for a corner from which a King’s header was cleared off the Larne line with the Town’s players claiming it had crossed the goal-line. It was now exciting end to end stuff with Larne’s free-kick specialist McBurney swerving another one just past the post after 58 minutes. Good play from McArdle set up a chance for McCartan after 64 minutes but his effort was just over. Defender King was up again for another Brady corner in the 66th minute but ‘keeper Henry was in the right spot to save his fine header. Shortly after Brady was only inches wide after good combination play between himself and the elusive Grant. Mark Brown saw Red for a second yellow card after 85 minutes to compound Larne’s woes.