FOR the second successive week Banbridge Rangers were forced to go the distance to penalties in a cup game only this time they were on the losing side of sudden death strikes.
Rangers Irish Cup dream was short lived after making the trip to Amateur League side Rathfern Rangers for the Round One tie and were seconds from progressing before conceding a penalty in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
The entire match was as even a contest as you will see in a game off football with possession, territory and chances all on an equal par throughout.
Banbridge Rangers had the first chance off the game to go ahead when Peter Deans’ goalbound header on four minutes was deflected off the line by one of his own players.
A snapshot inside the Rangers penalty area was well saved by Chris Chambers by his feet just after the ten minute mark.
A whipping free kick to the back post by Neil Clydesdale was met by the head off Trevor Tate and forced the Rathfern goalkeeper into a very good pointblank save.
On the half hour mark Rathfern saw a volley just go over the top off the bar with the midfield battle taking control of proceedings until the half time interval.
Banbridge Rangers started brightly in the second half with Colin Cousins testing the keeper early on followed by a surging run and cross by full back Porter but nobody was able to connect with the ball into the box.
A quick throw by Jonny Porter on 55 minutes allowed Clydesdale to go at the full back and skipped past him to the byline before dinking the ball to the back post where Cousins rose to head down into the net to make it 1-0 to Banbridge Rangers.
With 20 minutes remaining a long ball by Rathfern was allowed to drop inside the Rangers penalty area with the Rathfern striker sweeping in the equaliser from the six yard box.
Within four minutes Rangers had regained their lead through the accuracy off keeper Chambers who pinpointed a 60 yard pass into the path off Neil Clydesdale who made no mistake with the finish in the quick counter attack.
Banbridge Rangers progression to the second round of the Irish Cup looked assured with the referee poised to blow for full time four minutes into injury time but Frazer unfortunately clipped his marker when attempting to clear the late danger and Rathfern were awarded a penalty which was strolked into the bottom corner with Chambers only able to get finger tips on.
Both sides took the game to each other in extra time with Peter Dean almost succeeding with an audious lob followed by Mallen who lifted the ball over the keeper but failed to hit the target.
Rathfern went close with a dipping volley in the second period and the final chance fell to Andy McLarty who saw his half volley well saved to force penalties.
In the shootout both teams scored their first three strikes with Rangers keeper Chris Chambers seeing his penalty get saved but had the strength of character to redeem himself immediately by saving the subsequent Rathfern penalty.
The fifth set of strikes were both scored and in the first round off sudden death Ryan Gregg went high and over the bar with Rathfern scoring to take full advantage and move into the next round of the Irish Cup. Banbridge Rangers will have another tough cup game this Saturday when they host Lurgan Celtic at Cheney Park, 3pm.