BANBRIDGE Rangers Reserves made the daunting trip to play Coagh United Reserves last Saturday in a league game for the Reserves Championship.
Despite losing the game Banbridge Rangers had many positives to take away from an enthralling game on one of the better playing surfaces around the country.
Rangers had several new additions to their squad with Kyle McKnight making an impressive debut at centre half.
In the opening 15 minutes Banbridge Rangers were in awe of a Coagh United side who moved the ball at pace on their home pitch holding possession for extended periods in the opening minutes with any real penetration.
After this initial period McMinn and McKnight began to take control of proceedings and stamped their authority on the game shifting the momentum and creating several chances through wide players Ryan Weir and Peter Dean.
Banbridge Rangers Reserves proved a match for Coagh United Reserves throughout the remainder of the half with Steven McMinn pulling off a superb block in the Rangers nets before John Thompson put an effort wide after some neat one touch football down the right hand side involving Weir with Richard McMinn and McKnight down the right hand side.
With a minute remaining in the half Coagh United managed to open the scoring with a swift counter attack from a Rangers corner with the striker debatably offside but made no mistake slotting in under McMinn.
One of the most promising aspects of the Banbridge Rangers Reserves performances this season has been the willingness to take the game to their opponents and play an attractive attacking style of football.
From the restart Rangers drove directly forward with Richie McMinn being hacked down about thirty yards from goal. McMinn got up to take the resultant free kick with a disguised pass in behind the wall to left back Neville Cochrane who took the ball under control before unleashing a low drive past the Coagh keeper and bringing the scores level less than sixty seconds after going behind.
The second half began with Banbridge Rangers looking more confident on the attack with the front pairing of John Thompson and Neil Wilson working their socks off in the front line.
Thompson made way for Gareth Wilson just over 10 minutes into the half with Rangers pushing for the next goal.
On the hour mark Coagh should have went a goal ahead when their striker was played through one on one with McMinn who stood up well and managed to turn the shot round the post in the save of the match.
At the other end of the pitch Matthew McKnight could have put Rangers in front with a twenty five yard drive that took a deflection but the Coagh keeper somehow managed to scramble across his goal line to prevent Rangers taking a deserved lead.
Coagh responded with some good work down the right hand side with the right back overlapping and driving a low cross into the Rangers box which was swept clear by right back Robbie Baird. The clearance landed fortuitously at the foot of the Coagh left midfielder who drove his effort into the far corner to give his side the lead.
Banbridge Rangers made two changes with James Monteith and Jason Gibson entering the game in the hope of salvaging a point from the fixture.
A corner on eighty minutes gave Kyle McKnight a free header but the keeper saved well from the header which was headed into the ground.
Coagh United finished with all three points but in reflection both sides would have deserved a draw. There were many positives to take from the game with the back four of Robbie Baird, Kyle McKnight, Richard Adamson and Neville Cochrane putting in a great shift against one of the better sides played in the league this season.
This Saturday Banbridge Rangers Reserves will host neighbours Banbridge Town Reserves at Cheney Park. The eagerly anticipated game will be the first between the top two Reserve sides in the district with kick off at 2.15pm.