A stark statistic prior to Saturday’s visit to Sport & Leisure Swifts at their Glen Road ground showed that since the Belfast side’s inception into Championship Two, Banbridge Town had failed to record a victory against their opponents - three draws and one defeat the record.
And it didn’t get any better as Town came away with a disappointing 4-2 defeat.
They had put in a good first half too, 2-1 ahead at the break, and it should have been more. It all looked promising but they failed to turn up for the second half leaving manager Ryan Watson and the good travelling support exasperated.
It looked oh so different early on as Banbridge took the game to the West Belfast men from the off. Mattie McCartan thundered an early effort which was blocked and spun into the grateful Nugent’s arms in the home goal.
At the other end, James McConville made a fine stop following a long Tully throw into Town’s box.
Johnston flashed a free kick narrowly past an upright shortly afterwards. Mark Teggart showed no little skill seconds later with a neat flick over a defender before forcing a good save from Nugent.
On 22 minutes, Town took the lead when Nathan Baird’s free-kick found Stephen Greene at the back post and his goalbound header was finished by the inrushing Ally Wilson.
It was a lead they were to hold for only two minutes after a casual backpass from James Wilson was intercepted by Jenkins who rounded the keeper to equalise.
Banbridge’s fighting spirit kicked in and after 26 minutes Greene could have given them the lead once again when he found himself unmarked but headed an Ally Wilson free kick wide.
Neil Watson was injured in the 31st minute but soldiered on despite being clearly in some discomfort.
Town’s man of the match James McConville made a cracking save on 33 minutes when he pushed a Jenkins drive onto the base of the post before gathering. Four minutes after Banbridge went ahead for the second time when Mark Teggart showed good control before sending a 20 yard volley into the roof of the net past Nugent.
Mattie McCartan went off injured after 41 minutes to be replaced by Martin Buchanan. Town were in control now and missed a clear cut chance to put two goals between them and Sport & Leisure after 44 minutes. A deft touch from Wilson found Steve Jones on a one to one with keeper Nugent. The midfielder failed to notice an unmarked James Wilson who would have had the simple task of tapping home and instead fired wide.
It was a miss which was to prove costly. Although Town started the second half brightly with Wilson flashing wide after 50 minutes, it was the home side who assumed control and bagged an inevitable equaliser on 63 minutes.
A left wing cross found half-time substitute Pierce Tully who fired into the bottom corner.
Packie McAllister’s men powered on to grab the lead for the first time after 72 minutes when Gallagher reacted quickest after Thompson’s piledriver had been pushed on to a post by the diving McConville.
As you would expect, Town came roaring back and Nugent had to be alert to parry a 25 yard volley from Martin Buchanan after a surging run by the Banbridge substitute on 75 minutes.
McConville kept Town in the game with a great save with his feet before Sport & Leisure sealed the issue with a fourth goal after 82 minutes. Stephen Tully’s trademark long throw reached Lynch who touched it past the unlucky McConville and it was all three points for the West Belfast men.
Next Saturday, Banbridge Town are back at Crystal Park when Newington YC will be visitors (kick-Off is at 2pm).
SPORT & LEISURE SWIFTS: Nugent, Tully, Moore, Largey, Carland, Johnson, Daly, McAuley, Jenkins, Gallagher, Lynch.
Subs: Thompson (Johnson 45), Corr (Gallagher 82), McAlea, Tully (Moore 45), McGrogan.
BANBRIDGE TOWN: McConville, Wilson, Baird, Waddell, Greene, Jones, Teggart, McCartan, Wilson, Watson, Downey.
Subs: Orr, Buchanan (McCartan 41), Gourley (Watson 61).
Referee: G. McIlwrath, Belfast.