BANBRIDGE Rangers went top of the table on Saturday afternoon after hitting six goals against Broomhedge at Cheney Park with striker Gareth Fulton bagging himself a well deserved hat-trick.
The win takes Banbridge Rangers into a dominant position in Mid Ulster Intermediate B with the four teams now directly below having all played at least four games more at this stage of the season.
Manager Dan Thornton was without several midfielders for the second game in a row and decided to start all of the strikers at his disposal in the three pronged attacking lineup with Gareth Fulton and Jason Gourley playing either side of Clifford Sterritt.
The men from south Antrim couldn’t contain Rangers in the opening quarter of an hour with Jason Gourley opening the scoring on twelve minutes after coming in off the left hand side and finishing confidently to open the scoring.
On 16 minutes the twisting and turning of Fulton presented him with an opportunity to strike on his left foot from inside the area with the ball curling into the keepers near bottom corner to double the home sides advantage early in the game.
Banbridge Rangers’ midfield trio of Wilton, Gregg and McKnight were creating wave after wave of openings for the front men with Fulton using his body well to control a through ball on the half hour mark, making no mistake when one on one with the Broomhedge keeper.
Broomhedge put a dent in Rangers momentum on 36 minutes when a ball over the top was picked up by the late run of a Broomhedge midfielder and he beat Ivon Blevins to reduce the deficit to two goals again.
Ryan Gregg had been moved into the centre of midfield for the second game in succession after playing the first half of the season at centre half and used his nifty footwork on the edge of the area to beat two men before curling in a sublime effort with his left foot into the far corner of the net.
Mark Wilton was replaced at half time with Ryan Ferry making his second appearance with this game being played at a very different tempo compared to last weeks game.
For 20 minutes in the second half Banbridge Rangers held much of the possession without being able to take some good half chances.
On 64 minutes Cliffy Sterritt was reward with a goal of his own after putting in a superb shift all afternoon and having a helping hand in some of the previous goals. A high aerial ball from Matty McKnight was anticipated well by Sterritt who got between the keeper and last defender inside the box to divert his half volley off the inside of the post to make it 5-1 to the Gers.
The sixth goal of the day arrived less than five minutes later with Gareth Fulton showing quick reactions inside the box to slot home his third goal of the day and could have followed up with a fourth only minutes later only to be denied by the Broomhedge keeper. With a rout now possible Broomhedge dug deep to pull a goal back on 72 minutes with a well timed strike by their striker and reduced the arrears further with a third goal six minutes from time with some complacency seeping into the Rangers backline in the closing stages.
The three points in each game from now to the end of the season are the main priority for Banbridge Rangers who will have only ten games remaining after this Saturdays home game against Seagoe at Cheney Park with kick off at 2.30pm.