Town trounced at Crystal Park after second half collapse

Town keeper James McConville grips the ball at a rain-soaked Crystal Park during Banbridge Town's 3-0 defeat on Saturday. INBL1444-229EB
Town keeper James McConville grips the ball at a rain-soaked Crystal Park during Banbridge Town's 3-0 defeat on Saturday. INBL1444-229EB

Sometimes the truth can be blunt and can give a rude awakening to the recipient.

I’m sure the players of Banbridge Town received ‘the truth’ in plenty in the changing rooms from manager Ryan Watson after as poor a display as has been seen at Crystal Park for a long time on Saturday afternoon.

This was a game Town never looked like winning and into the bargain presented visitors Newington with at least two goals as a result of poor decision making in the 3-0 defeat.

It is true Town were decimated in midfield with the absence of Mattie McCartan, Steve Jones and Damian McParland while up front the physical presence of Neil Watson was also sorely missed.

However, their traditional fighting spirit was missing and although they had several goal chances throughout the game it has to be said Newington were the superior team.They dominated proceedings from the outset and almost went ahead after six minutes when Kevin O’Neill met a right wing cross and went close from 12 yards.

Conditions were very blustery making football difficult but it was the midfield of Newington (Burns, O’Neill and Bradley) which took control against the lighter and less experienced Banbridge men. Town’s first attack was not until the 11th minute when Stephen Greene got his head to a long Michael Ferguson throw-in but was narrowly wide.

Ironically it was the home side who should have taken the lead on 15 minutes when Ryan Gourley beat the offside trap to race through on a one to one with keeper Dean Smyth but it was the big Newington stalwart who won the contest with a fine save.

After 31 minutes Banbridge had keeper James McConville to thank for keeping then on level terms with a brilliant full length dive to push out a goalbound effort from Cathal O’Kane. Three minutes later Town did conjure up a good three man move involving Ally Wilson, Mark Teggart and Ryan Gourley but Smyth dealt with the latter’s finish easily.

Conor Downey curled a shot into Smyth’s arms after 42 minutes while at the other end McConville made another terrific save when he got his finger tips to a point blank Sean Adams header to push it over on the half time whistle.

As both sides sought the opening goal Ally Wilson did really well to fire a fierce volley across goal but none of his colleagues could get a touch on it. However Town’s rearguard were beginning to creak and after 66 minutes Newington went ahead when Rafferty crashed a drive into the corner of the net after a comedy of errors in Town’s defence.

It was uphill now for the home side and Bradley almost increased the Belfast side’s lead on 72 minutes with a neat chip which McConville saved well. Banbridge pushed up in search of an equaliser and it almost came a minute later when Mark Teggart saw his drive cannon off keeper Smyth after a good move involving Glen Waddell and young sub Adam Dennison.

Dennison’s performance when he entered the fray for James Wilson was the only highlight on an otherwise dismal day for Town. The 17 year old (son of ex Glenavon star Davy and nephew of Robbie - ex Wolves and N.Ireland) showed a maturity way beyond his years and surely has a big future in the game.

However, after 77 minutes the home side found themselves twobehind when the impressive Conal Burns latched onto a rebound off the luckless Greene to fire into the roof of the net.

Three minutes later and Town were the authors once again of their own downfall when Waddell contrived to foul inside the box and that man again, Conal Burns, struck his penalty out of McConville’s reach.

To their credit, Banbridge did attack until the end and almost pulled a goal back on 85 minutes when Smyth spilled an Ally Wilson header at the feet of Conor Downey but recovered well to smother the Town man’s effort.

The defeat capped off a disappointing week for two who, last Tuesday night exited the Mid-Ulster Cup when they went down 3-1 to Premier side Dungannon Swifts at Stangmore Park.

Town took an early lead when a Conor Downey cross was turned into his own net by a home defender. The Swifts equalised before half time and although Banbridge remained competitive they conceded two second half goals to go out of the competition.

TOWN: McConville, Ferguson, Baird, Greene, Waddle, Buchanan, Teggart, Wilson, Wilson, Downey, Gourley.

Subs: Orr, Dennison (Wilson 70), Burns, Jones, Stoddard.

NEWINGTON: Smyth, McErlean, McClean, O’Kane, Adams, Burns, Brannigan, O’Neill, Rafferty, Bradley, Brannigan.

Subs: Glenholmes, McMenamin, Manning, Smith.

Referee: Jamie Robinson, Portadown.