Banbridge Town returned to winning ways with a comfortable three points against an improved Killymoon Rangers outfit at Crystal Park.
Town had held a one goal lead for a long period and although dominating proceedings they kept their supporters in great suspense before top goal-scorer Steven O’Neill sealed a 2-0 victory with 20 minutes remaining.
Manager Ryan Watson left out three of his first choice strikeforce as a result of some disappointing finishing in recent weeks and brought in Neil Watson for his first start of the season together with the available again Mattie McCartan and Johnny Kernoghan.
It certainly was an inspired move from the manager as it was left-winger Kernoghan who made an instant impact with a well taken fourth minute goal to put Banbridge in the driving seat. Just to prove a point, it was Neil Watson who started the move with a deft pass to Steven O’Neill, who raced fully 40 yards before squaring to the unmarked Kernoghan to finish.
Town had a similar start to their last league game but on this occasion were determined not to concede a quick equaliser. Killymoon did push forward and Town keeper Stephen Cairnduff was called into action to hold a shot from Young after the Cookstown man had played a neat one-two with fellow forward Greer. The Banbridge back-four of Waddell, Buchanan, Greene and Wilson were solid throughout and gave great cover to their keeper all afternoon.
After 10 minutes, Mattie McCartan saw his drive spilled by the visiting keeper Stewart but defender McElhatton was in the right place to clear the danger. On 22 minutes, Killymoon’s Young fired wildly over after a foul had been awarded following an innocuous Stephen Jones challenge.
Three minutes later, a clever interception by Glen Waddell sent Mattie McCartan racing down the right and when Watson’s head met the fine cross, it took a great one handed save from Stewart to prevent his side from going further behind. The visitor’s goal was leading a charmed life and on 35 minutes Johnny Kernoghan found the side-netting after fine combination work with the bustling Watson. Meanwhile, Greer was well wide with an effort for the visitors in a rare Killymoon attack.
Town started the second-half in the same attacking mood and should have doubled their lead after 56 minutes. A quick turn and pass from Steven O’Neill found Mattie McCartan whose cross was completely missed by the visiting keeper. However, Johnny Kernoghan’s shot at the open goal lacked pace and a Killymoon defender got back to clear off the line.
Although living off scraps, the Cookstown men did give Town a scare after 59 minutes with a dangerous shot that flashed across goal and wide. Killymoon custodian Gary Stewart did well on 62 minutes to save with his feet from the marauding Steven O’Neill although if the latter had spotted the unmarked Neil Watson, a certain goal was on the cards.
O’Neill more than made up for this when, after showing good control, he skinned the right-back before laying the ball on to substitute Mark Teggart and the little winger made no mistake to send Town 2-0 ahead and into a more comfortable position.
James Wilson had a cracking 20 yard drive held by Stewart on 86 minutes and Boyle brought a diving save from the busy Stewart just before the end after receiving a pass from Downey.
BANBRIDGE TOWN: Stephen Cairnduff, Glen Waddell, James Wilson, Stephen Greene, Martin Buchanan, Stephen Jones, Mattie McCartan, Damian McParland, Neil Watson, Steven O’Neill, Johnny Kernoghan.
Subs: Nathan Baird, Mark Teggart (for Kernoghan 65 mins.), Conor Downey (Waddell 73 ), Gary Boyle (Watson 65), David Grey. KILLYMOON RANGERS: Gary Stewart, John Scott, Steven McElhatton, Craig Martin, Jason Ferry, Lee Hunter, Andy Neill, Johnny Young, Richard Donaghy, Roger Greer, George Dardis.
Subs: Gareth McGraw, James Leslie, Davy McMullan (Dardis 80).