SEVERAL hundred spectators were treated to some late night entertainment at Cheney Park last Friday evening when the Bob Radcliffe Cup tie between Banbridge Rangers and Valley Rangers went the distance and culminated in a nail biting finish.
Banbridge Rangers were somewhat fortunate to reach the shootout having gone 3-2 down in extra time only for a Tony Graham wonder goal to salvage penalties with only seconds remaining.
After 13 minutes Banbridge Rangers opened the scoring through Matty McKnight who blasted home after a mistimed clearance in the box by a Valley defender.
Valley’s response was good and the started to dictate the tempo off the half and brought about an equaliser after their striker timed his run in behind the Gers back four and slotted past keeper Chambers.
The momentum was with the Kilkeel side at the stage and they capitalised on their possession and territory by scoring another goal to give them a 2-1 lead heading into the interval.
At half time Thornton introduced Porter and Clydesdale into the action in the hope off getting to grips with Valley Rangers.
It took until the hour mark before Rangers started carving the Valley defence open with Gourley going close follwed by Cousins on 73 minutes who clipped the outside off the woodwork.
With eight minutes remaining off normal time a late run across the Valley backline by winger William Frazer wasn’t picked up and he latched onto a through ball smashing past the onrushing keeper on the half volley to level the scores and send the game to extra time.
In the opening five minutes of extra time Banbridge Rangers hit the crossbar three times with Jason Gourley showing superb first time control before striking a dipping volley but saw it clip the underside off the bar.
The Valley keeper was assisted by the woodwork twice more in quick succession but was able to start a quick counter attack which saw Valley take a 3-2 lead into the changeover.
Banbridge Rangers looked shellshocked and tried to force the ball against a resilient Valley side who held on for the allotted time and were less than thirty seconds from completing their win until Tony Graham scored his peach controlling the ball on his chest with his back to goal before swiveling and beating the keeper with a dipping volley into the top corner from 25 yards out to send the Banbridge contingent delirious.
Each off the teams got to take 10 penalties each in the shootout with a very high standard of strikes with Graham dinking his onto the crossbar after Chris Chambers had saved a Valley penalty in the third round of the shootout.
Keeper Chambers then became the hero of the night, getting a solid hand down to his left hand side to give Rangers the victory.
The reward for Banbridge Rangers is a home tie in the next round at home to current holders of the Bob Radcliffe Cup Lurgan Celtic. Lurgan Celtic defeated Loughgall 1-0 in the final last year and will prove to be a difficult opponent when they come to Cheney Park on Saturday 22nd September with kick off at 3.00pm.