Banbridge Town Juniors U16s Lisburn League team booked their place in the next round of the NIBFA Cup on Saturday after beating local rivals Banbridge Rangers 3-1 in an enthralling derby at Cheney Park on Saturday morning.
In front of a large crowd and in a tense atmosphere, the opening exchanges were fierce and it took ten minutes as expected for both sides to settle and the Juniors to get into their rhythm.
The Town created the most clear cut chances early on, with McAtamney firing over the bar from close range following some great combination football involving McKibbon, Devlin and Fitzsimmons.
Then Rafferty hit the side netting after a strong run and shot and Byrne was denied with a last ditch tackle from Rangers.
The breakthrough eventually came from a long clearance from the impressive Leckey in goal which fell kindly to the hard working Rafferty up front who got in behind the defence and headed over the onrushing keeper to put the Town 1-0 up.
Rangers who created few clear cut openings until then, had to lift their tempo and eventually on the stroke of half time equalised when a corner was headed in from close range.
With their tails up, Rangers came out of the blocks strongly in the second half and were unlucky not to score when Leckey was caught off guard and the centre forward put the ball into the side netting with the goal beckoning.
Eventually, the Town started to show their superior quality and created the more clear cut chances. Byrne fired wide when put through by McKibbon and McCann shot straight at the keeper when well placed.
Then McKibbon, who worked tirelessly throughout, had a shout for a penalty turned down when he was upended in the box.
Fearon, who came on in the second half, was causing the Rangers defence some new problems down the left, and it was his lay back to Downey who whipped in a great cross for McAtamney to head home that gave the Town a well-deserved lead with ten minutes to go.
With tensions running high, the Juniors defended magnificently with Morgan and Ellison prominent in the latter stages and McKibbon and McKinstry in midfield starting to dominate.
With minutes on the clock, Fearon went close again for the Town with a glancing header, but it was left to full back Downey to round off the scoring, converting McKibbon’s corner at the near post to make it 3-1 and send the Rangers crashing out of the Cup.
This was a well deserved victory for the Town Juniors despite not playing to their potential they did manage to find another gear when it mattered most and claim the victory in the local derby.
TOWN: Colin Leckey, Padraig Fitzsimons, Paul Morgan, Jason Ellison, Cormac Downey, Jamie McAtamney, Odhran McKibbon, Danny McKinstry, Michael Rafferty, Ryan Devlin, Owen Byrne, James McCann, Gavin Fearon,