THE IMC Glass sponsored Banbridge Rangers finished their league campaign last Wednesday evening with a superb 3-1 win away to Richhill.
The three points meant that the Champions finished the season with an excellent return of 58 points out of a possible 66 which included an unbeaten record at Cheney Park.
Manager Dan Thornton went with an experimental side against Richhill with five regular first team players involved with the squad and the remainder made up off Under 18s and several of the third team.
It was Rangers who started the game confidently knocking the ball about with ease in the midfield which consisted of Scott Lindsay and Matthew McKnight who were assisted by Ryan Gregg who had a free role playing off lone striker Ryan Weir. Lightning fast Weir squeezed the Richhill back four at every opportunity and had several half chances to make his mark on the game which brought two good saves from the keeper.
On 20 minutes Ivon Blevins provided the assist for the opening goal of the game pumping the ball into the box where the Richhill keeper got his bearings wrong and fumbled the ball into the path of winger Aaron Chambers who was on hand to tap in and bring his recent prolific form for the Swifts into the Senior side. Fellow winger Peter Dean was also working tirelessly on the flank and supplied an exquisite ball over the top for Ryan Weir who saw his effort go just wide off the post when free with the keeper. Banbridge Rangers held good spells of pos
ession with the makeshift back four of Colin Cousins, Kyle Sergeant, Neil Clydesdale and Robbie Baird all getting chances to go forward in support of attacks.
At half time keeper Ivon Blevins switched with Colin Cousins with Blevins joining Weir up front and immediately caused havoc with some darting runs into the flanks. On fifty five minutes Richhill grabbed an equaliser from a corner which was headed in from inside the six yard box with the Rangers keeper failing to come out and punch.
Under 18s’ Lee McCullough and Josh Crossett entered the game shortly after and made a positive impact from word go with Crossett showing great tenacity to win the ball off Brian Quilty in the middle of the park and set up an attack which saw Rangers head just wide.
On 70 minutes some neat combination play down the left hand side through McCullough and McKnight opened up the space to send Ryan Gregg free against the last man. Gregg controlled the ball with wonderful technical ability to give himself a yard to shoot and buried his shot into the bottom corner from twenty yards out to restore the Gers lead.
Banbridge Rangers were in control at this stage with Ivon Blevins going close just after eighty minutes when through one on one but saw his effort go over the bar. In stoppage time at the end of the game Blevins was put through one on one with the keeper who he rounded but was brought down for a penalty after a theatrical dive from Rangers shot stopper.
Blevins dusted himself off to blast home his first goal for the club and round off the season in style with a well earned 3-1 win. There several very impressive performances on the night from the teenagers on show who may give Dan Thornton a headache if they can knuckle down in pre season and start to fulfill their potential.