Since their home victory against Killymoon Rangers, Banbridge Town’s league form has deteriorated and they slumped to their fourth successive defeat on Saturday when they travelled to Portadown and went under 2-0 to a good Annagh United side.
The homes side, who are in this season’s Mid-Ulster Cup Final, notched nine goals against Chimney Corner the previous week and went into the game as hot favourites.
Town did not succumb like Annagh’s previous opponents did but nevertheless two first half goals from the League’s top goalscorer Shea Campbell secured the points for the home side.
Annagh opened the game at great pace with right winger Francis McCann causing problems for Town down the right. He was a constant thorn all afternoon although Banbridge full-back Nathan Baird stuck to the task of curbing him manfully. Stephen Cairnduff saved at the base of the post from Gardiner early on as Annagh dominated through the efforts of ex-Portadown stars Craig, Paget and Acheson. Town were playing off scraps but Johnny Kernoghan’s inviting cross after eight minutes was seized on by Neil Watson who was unlucky to be blown up for offside.
Cairnduff stopped a Scott McCordick shot on 12 minutes. Two minutes later it took a good recovering tackle from Nathan Baird to prevent McCann from scoring after a misplaced pass from Glen Waddell.
Martin Buchanan thought he had played Kernoghan in after 18 minutes but the latter was caught offside by the competent home rearguard playing a very effective high line. A minute later, the home side struck when McCordick turned Waddell to earn a penalty which ace predator Shea Campbell converted.
On 22 minutes, it was 2-0 and once again Town contributed to the goal. When Stephen Jones lost possession to McCann, the pacey winger raced down the right before crossing to Campbell who finished at the far post.
After 27 minutes, Nathan Baird fired across goal and Martin Buchanan went agonisingly close to touching it home. Baird provided quite a few crosses after overlapping during the afternoon and was unlucky not to see at least one of these converted. A foul on Baird after 31 minutes saw Town man-of-the-match Stephen Greene almost get a head to the resultant free.
Minutes later, a Teggart drive broke to Neil Watson but keeper Wright saved at the big number nine’s feet. Just before the half-time whistle, Annagh full-back Stretton had a thunderous volley pushed over the bar by the diving Cairnduff. Town introduced Conor Downey as the second half commenced and looked a different side.
Johnny Kernoghan was close with a couple of good efforts although on 51 minutes, Stephen Cairnduff rescued his side with another fine stop from the elusive McCann.
Gary Boyle replaced Neil Watson before that man McCann fed Shea Campbell after 53 minutes and the latter’s hat-trick looked certain although Town’s excellent keeper Cairnduff had other ideas and made a great save.
Conor Downey had a half chance after 70 minutes but fired over. Young David Grey replaced a tiring Nathan Baird two minutes later.
On 75 minutes, Johnny Kernoghan almost gave Town the goal their play deserved after good work from Gary Boyle and seven minutes later they had penalty claims turned down after a Teggart drive appeared to strike a hand. It was obvious it was not going to be Town’s day when after a training ground move involving Kernoghan, Boyle and Teggart led to the latter striking a well-struck effort off the post with the rebound being cleared to safety.
ANAGH UNITED: Andrew Wright, Matthew Paget, Paul Stretton, Stephen Acheson, Richard Allen, Bryan Pentland, Francis McCann, Philip Craig, Shea Campbell, Scott McCordick, Jaime Gardiner. Subs: Iain Latimer, Ryan Murphy, Shea Skelton, Adam Nesbitt, Matthew Brown (McCann 73)
BANBRIDGE TOWN: Stephen Cairnduff, James Wilson, Nathan Baird, Stephen Greene, Glen Waddell, Stephen Jones, Mark Teggart, Martin Buchanan, Neil Watson, Michael Ferguson, Johnny Kernoghan. Subs: Gary Boyle (Watson 52), Conor Downey (Ferguson 45), David Grey (Baird 72), Dominic Donnelly.