Sunnyside U17s ...........................1
Banbridge Rangers U17s.............4
BANBRIDGE Rangers U17s showed great character to turn a half time deficit into victory in a league game last Saturday against Sunnyside.
The first half was always going to be an uphill struggle for the Rangers side who had to cope with playing against the ten degree slant in the pitch at Lurgan Park.
Sunnyside were in control of the opening twenty minutes play on Saturday and had the Rangers back line pegged back inside their half but were only able to convert one of their chances.
The Sunnyside goal came in less than five minutes after a low cross from the right hand side was diverted past Johnston in the Rangers nets to give the Lurgan side an early advantage. As the half proceeded the away team started to come into the game a lot more with Lee McCullough and Jeff Woods working the ball well up the left hand flank.
The first half ended 1-0 to Sunnyside but right from the first kick off it was clear that Rangers were intent on turning the tables with some direct running and competing in centre midfield from Mark Ball, Jordan McCracken and Dean Gordon.
The half was only five minutes in when Lee McCullough produced another stroke of genius to score his eighth goal of the season picking the ball up from 25 yards out, shifting it inside before unleashing a superb curling effort into the far side of the net beyond the reaches of the Sunnyside keeper to level the scores.
Just after fifty minutes Banbridge Rangers took the lead for the first time in the match with Stephen Copes playing in younger brother Nathan who carried the ball to the byline and hooked his cross towards the nets for Jordan McCracken to convert from close range. Nathan Copes had twisted his knee crossing for the goal and was replaced by Ryan Burns who took up position up front. The decisive incident in the game occurred only three minutes later when the referee awarded a penalty to Sunnyside for a handball inside the area. Adam Johnston spread himself well to save the penalty which knocked the confidence of the Sunnyside attacks.
With fifteen minutes remaining striker Stephen Copes got his name on the score sheet converting past the Sunnyside keeper and was delighted with his goal after seeing a close range header go over only a couple of minutes earlier. Nathan Salley and Timmy Topping were introduced onto either side and got involved with the game from the off with some good closing down and supporting the front men. With two minutes of normal time left Topping was retreating outside the area when he intercepted a scuffed Sunnyside goal kick from their centre half, the lively winger had no hesitation in pulling the trigger and scored a superb goal from over twenty yards out with his shot nestling into the far top corner to give Banbridge Rangers a full deserved 4-1 victory and to stay level on points with third placed Ballymoney.