Banbridge Rangers exited the Mid Ulster Cup in heart-breaking fashion on Friday evening at the Newry Showgrounds when Newry City AFC snatched a winner with only three minutes remaining on the clock.
The two sides have only met on one occasion previously with Newry City winning that contest as well back in 2010 but at that stage they were in the Irish Premiership before they were forced to reform.
The Gers failed to get to grips with this game early on as Newry moved the ball at pace on what was a superb playing surface. On seven minutes, City broke down the left flank and with two players to pick out inside the area, the low cross was aimed towards Lowry but Buchanan made the covering tackle only to see the ball go in off the inside of the post.
Jimmy Walker was dictating much of the play for Newry in the centre of midfield and they carved open the Gers on a number of occassions but were unable to convert.
As the half drew on, Banbridge Rangers started to gain a foothold with Cousins and Brady testing the keeper but then lost centre half Chris Chambers to injury and he was replaced by Kyle Sergeant ten minutes before the break.
The second half began with Newry going on the offensive with a ball down the right hand channel allowing for a low cross to Keith Johnston who spurned a good chance with just the keeper to beat.
Then five minutes into the half could have saw Newry reduced to ten men when Johnston’s strike partner McMullan reacted to O’Neill but the referee only produced a yellow card.
Coly Cousins saw Rangers go close to an equaliser on the hour mark but he curled wide of the upright when free on goal. The leveller followed soon after when Cousins released William Frazer down the left wing and his pull back to the edge of the box saw Andy Mallen drill low past the keeper with a vicious shot.
Ryan Gregg was also having a superb game at the heart of the Banbridge defence and set up a swift counter attack from a corner but Cousins fizzed his shot just over the bar from an acute angle.
In the latter stages of the game, Steven McMinn kept Rangers in the tie with a strong left hand to deny Lowry and then a smart save with his feet from Johnston but with three minutes to go, there was nothing he could do about Johnston’s shot into the bottom corner.
Next up for Rangers is a home league game against Camlough Rovers this Saturday whilst the Reserves take on Banbridge Town AFC in a local derby in the Reserve Championship, both games kicking off at 2.15pm.
BANBRIDGE RANGERS: Steven McMinn, Jonny O’Neill, Chris Chambers (Kyle Sergeant ‘37), Ryan Gregg, Aaron Buchanan, Jonny Porter (Dean Gordon ‘67), Matthew McKnight (Matthew Corr ‘67), Jeff Brady, William Frazer, Andy Mallen & Colin Cousins.