BANBRIDGE Rangers Swifts secured second place and promotion to Reserve Division 3 last Wednesday with an emphatic 6-2 win away to Lurgan Thistle Reserves. The first half performance was one of the best of the season in a must win game with Rangers taking a 5-1 lead into the interval. There was a minute silence before the game for highly regarded Swifts player Robin Butler who had suffered the bereavement of his daughter last week.
After a confident opening five minutes the opening goal arrived through right back Robbie Baird who scored his fourth goal in four games with a superb half volley into the top corner after picking up a headed clearance on the edge of the area. Rangers soon got into their passing stride with right winger Aaron Chambers firing in the second goal of the evening after some excellent build up play.
The Swifts strike partnership of Neil Wilson and John McCahon has been impressive this season tearing teams apart and both players went into the final game of the year with 23 goals each.
Both players were out to claim the Top Goalscorer award but more important was the three points. After an effort went wide each John McCahon made it 3-0 bundling the ball over the line after a rasping cross from left back Wayne McAllister found its way to McCahon at the back post.
The Lurgan side were being outplayed at this stage and under pressure with wave after wave of corners but they managed to break away from one of these at pace and clinically brought themselves back into the game with a superb shot from the edge of the area giving teenage keeper Adam Johnston no chance. This goal did not deter the Swifts from playing some flowing one touch football with Neil Wilson and Peter Dean going close before Aaron Chambers eventually scored a fourth caressing the ball into the far bottom corner.
A fifth goal for Banbridge Rangers arrived just before the half time interval when Aaron Chambers checked inside his marker and drilled a low cross towards the net with the keeper caught flat footed by the run of Stuart Cairns who just missed the ball but did enough to force the keeper to misjudge and therefore hand winger Chambers his hat trick.
In the second half Lurgan Thistle came out to prevent a slaughtering and managed to hold Rangers at bay and restrict them to shooting from distance. Just before the hour mark Thistle grabbed their second goal of the evening with a snap shot crashing in off the underside off the bar. This was a wake up call for Rangers who had taken their foot off the gas with the four goal advantage being restored with twenty minutes to go through Wayne McAllister who drilled a low shot under the keeper from an acute angle after making a driving overlapping run from left back.
Banbridge Rangers Swifts had chances to extend their lead with Neil Wilson missing a glorious opportunity with two minutes to go sweeping mid air from four yards out with an open net gaping in front off him. The game finished 6-2 to Banbridge Rangers Swifts who could have no complaints about finishing second to a Coalisland Athletic Reserve side who have been unbeaten all season. Rangers’ third string will now move into the Division above which includes Moneyslane and Scarva seconds so there will be several good derbies to look forward to next season.