Banbridge Rangers Reserves went top of the league on the opening weekend in the Reserve Championship after a derby win over Banbridge Town Reserves.
Andy Mallen was the hero, notching a superb hattrick in the process.
Rangers went into the game focused and took the lead three minutes in with the goal of the game. Midfield pairing Jordan McCracken and Stuart Thompson were instrumental in the build up with McCracken hitting a great tackle. Thompson reacted quickest and poked through to Mallen who travelled for 10 yards before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the top corner from thirty yards out.
The game was played at a decent tempo with Rangers looking hungrier for the ball. Some neat footwork by McCracken inside the box on 34 minutes saw him tripped for a penalty which was drilled by Mallen but well saved by the Town keeper.
This lifted the away side who equalised four minutes before the break when a foul on Sergeant wasn’t given. The ball was squared and drilled low at the near post.
In the second half the Gers came out fired up and eventually regained their lead before the hour mark when good work by Neily Wilson left Mallen with the easiest of tap ins.
Just over ten minutes later Rangers went 3-1 up when Thompson’s determination saw him eventually see the ball richochet to Mallen who made no mistake from six yards.
Ryan Weir continued to threaten wide right in a much improved second half and ended up having an assist for the fourth goal which was a driven corner and a Town midfielder turned his back on the ball and was punished by conceeding an own goal.
Banbridge Rangers Reserves introduced straight swaps with striker McCahon, midfielder Jamie Edgar and defender John Casement coming on with the latter picking up a booking within minutes.
In the 89th minute the Town scored a late consolation with a bending ball that beat Parkes from 25 yards. Great committment from each Rangers player and the improvement in fitness was key tonight and should see them compete better this season in the MUFL championship.