In their final home league fixture of the season, Banbridge Town faced a mighty task as they endeavoured to send their loyal supporters home happy.
They came up against PSNI, who grabbed a late winner to grab the points and beat Queens’ University to the second promotion place.
After a tentative opening, it was the visitors who assumed early control and Ryan Berry fired wide on seven minutes following a bit of indecision in Banbridge’s back four.
Town keeper Stephen Cairnduff continued his impressive form with a save from Anderson’s 12 yard drive and followed this with a 16th minute stop from Kirgan’s effort, which was the culmination of a fine flowing move from the Police.
His counterpart in the visitor’s goal, Keith Wilson came to his side’s rescue three minutes later with a terrific point blank save from a Conor Downey overhead shot after the latter had connected with a long throw in from Michael Ferguson, who slotting in well for the absent Glen Waddell. Downey then set up the hard-working Mark Teggart, whose fierce shot was held by Wilson.
After 27 minutes, the visitors’ prolific goal-scorer Peter Steele looked like he would open the scoring when he turned brilliantly in the box but once again Cairnduff thwarted his efforts with a magnificent one-handed save.
The promotion hopefuls were dealt a blow on 34 minutes when Banbridge upset the form book to take a 1-0 lead. A quick attack split the PSNI defence and a lovely flick from Stephen Greene found Mark Teggart clear on goal. The little winger blasted into the corner of the net giving Wilson no chance.
Stunned, the visitors came storming back and Kirgan lifted his 39th minute free over while Adamclyk fired wide after racing past two defenders.
It could have been much worse for the visitors when Town’s Steven O’Neill came oh so close to increasing his side’s lead but after losing his marker he shot inches wide from a narrow angle.
Three minutes into the second half, the same player had a header saved by Wilson after connecting with a Conor Downey free-kick.
The game turned one minute later with an equaliser from Mark Anderson. PSNI were awarded a free on the edge of Town’s box and up stepped Anderson to send a great drive into the far corner to level the scores.
This was a great boost for the visitors and they began to pressurise Town, playing some very attractive football. Kirk headed wide at the far post from a 61st minute corner and Cairnduff got down to stop a 20 yard drive from Kirgan.
Town were still very much in this hard fought encounter and O’Neill should have done better when he blasted over in front of goal after a mazy run from midfield ace Damian McParland.
Twelve minutes remained when the visitors struck with a spectacular goal worthy of winning any game, particularly one as vital as this.
They were awarded a free 35 yards from goal and Ryan Berry fired an fiercely struck drive high into the top corner despite the valiant efforts of keeper Cairnduff who got his hand to the ball.
Banbridge carried the fight to the end but it was the Police who held out for a hard-fought but deserved victory to secure promotion.
Last Tuesday, Town made the journey to Holm Park to face league champions Armagh City but came out on the wrong side of a 4-0 scoreline. Next Saturday is the final game of the season with Banbridge Town travelling to Lurgan Celtic (kick-Off 3pm.)
The Supporters Club will be running their usual bus and names as always should be given to Terry Sweeney (Tel: 07970275154).
TOWN: Cairnduff, Wilson, Baird, Greene, Ferguson, Buchanan, Teggart, McParland, O’Neill, Downey, Kernoghan.
Subs: Waddell, Boyle (Baird 73), Watson, Grey (Ferguson 83), Orr.
PSNI: Wilson, Gray, Robb, Kirk, Rushe, Berry, Anderson, Kirgan, Steele, Dobbin, Adamclyk.
Subs: McWilliams, Brennan (Rushe 6), Leitch (Adamclyk 90), Holden (Robb 85), Quinn.