SCORELINES don’t always tell the true story of every football match, and that certainly was the case at Rathmore Road on Saturday where Limavady enflicted crushing 9-0 defeat on Ronnie Haughey’s young Banbridge Town team.
While the home side were well worth their victory in the end, their task was made all the easier by the fact that the Town lost two influential players to red cards.
First to receive his marching orders was skipper Matty McCartan following a tackle on Ruari McClean that referee Timmy Marshall deemed dangerous.
However, before this unfortunate turn of events that came after 35 minutes of play, as far as the Town were concerned they were well in the game, despite being a goal behind, scored by United’s Paul McLaughlin who got on the end of a long throw-in from Stuart Moore to bundle the ball over the line on 28 minutes.
Indeed, McCartan was instrumental in bringing the best of the home keeper Laurence McCormick when he made a great run to get on the end of a Chris McGrath pass only to see his goal-bound shot tipped over the bar.
And, before this opportunity Conor Downey had sent a header inches over the bar, while Chris Kingsberry also made space on the right to send in an inviting cross that just eluded a Banbridge touch inside the six-yard box.
At the other end Limavady also came close to making an early breakthrough when Lee Patrick headed over when well placed.
McCartan’s sending off then swung the game in the favour of Limavady, but not before Chris Kingsberry had picked up a lose clearance within a minute of the skipper’s red card only to see his 35 yard chip over the retreating McCormick come back off the underside of the bar to be retrieved the thankful keeper, and thus deny the Town an equaliser.
Many a difficult afternoon still lies ahead for this young Banbridge squad, and maybe the footballing Gods had decreed that Saturday was a day when they had to learn a hard lesson, because within seconds of Kingsberry’s near miss Limavady went upfield to give them a two goal cusion at the break courtesy of a strike from their ace marksman Trevor Parkhill who side-stepped 16-year-old Michael Ferguson before firing past keeper Kieran Maguire.
At the half-time break Town boss Ronnie Haughey took a bold decision to take the game to Limavady with a 3-4-1-1 formation, and had substitute Sean McKay’s shot from inside the box, after he got on the end of a flowing move straight after the restart, not gone the wrong side of the post questions may have been asked of Limavady.
But it wasn’t to be, and when United’s speedy left-winger broke clear to cut in and fire across Maguire into the bottom corner the game may have been over as a contest, but the contesting wasn’t over as two minutes later Stevie Jones received a second yellow card for a robust tackle and thereafter nine-man Town were left out to dry.
Having suffered two opening league defeats, Davy Platt’s United were no going to pass up on an opportunity to restore their own confidence, and from there on they were clinical in the extreme as Banbridge’s outnumbered troops tried their best to hold back the onslaught.
For the record the remaining Limavady goals came from Patrick, Clarke and McLaughlin, who all finished with a brace, and just to rub salt into the wounds of the Town, the last two strikes came from the fresh legs of substitutes Colin Logue and Declan Devin, the former Finn Harps and Institute striker had signed for United on the Thursday evening prior to the game.