BANBRIDGE First XI travelled to Shaw’s Bridge on Saturday morning intent on building on a successful opening fixture in the Kirk Cup which saw them fire five goals past Civil Service at Stormont on Wednesday evening.
They knew from the outset that this game would be a much sterner test than that of midweek as Instonians are renowned for their physicality and stong basics.
The game began at a somewhat lethargic pace, with the home dominating possession in the opening exchanges with Banbridge struggling to get their passing game into gear. Instonians converted this period of play into two early goals.
These both came from opportunity breaks down the Bann right side and saw them taking advantage of some lacklustre marking in the Bann midfield and backline, enabling them to finish from close range on both occasions with Peter Bingham – again deputising for an absent Gareth Lennox – in the Bann goal having no chance.
From this point Banbridge attempted to retain possession and put together some attacking play, mainly through Philip Brown down the right hand side.
Dane Ward saw a reverse stick shot flash beyond the back post when offered the opportunity to shoot but Bann were afforded few chances to get on the score sheet as the home side defended admirably, although this was against a Bann side seemingly devoid of attacking quality.
After a stern dressing down from Mark Tumilty at half time, Banbridge came back into the game, retaining possession well round the back four and in the midfield and using Philip Brown to better attacking effect down the right side. Scott Forbes was introduced at left back and utilised the ball efficiently being able to find Bruce McCandless and Ian Livingstone with more ease than in the opening 35 minute period.
Bann gradually built up a sustained platform in the home side’s territory and through one circle penetration the ball was worked to Bruce McCandless who finished calmly into the bottom right corner with a well placed reverse stick shot.
This goal spurred Banbridge on and the visitors were now playing with a renewed sense of pace, urgency and intent.
This made an equalising goal almost inevitable and this arrived after a break down the left side by Ian Livingstone, whose pass into the circle reached Josh Moffett – his first time shot was too powerful for the Instonians goalkeeper to handle and the ball crept into the goal.
From this point Banbridge endeavoured to go on and win the game and further chances fell to Dane Ward and Bruce McCandless who were unable to convert as well a short corner opportunity which came to nothing.
Banbridge continued to pressurise the home defence which gave Instonians limited opportunities to attack, but from one counter attack they managed to force a penalty corner.
This was flicked home low to the goalkeeper’s left by marksman William Robinson, much to the disappointed of the Bann players and travelling support.
The game finished with the home side winning by the odd goal in five and thus leaving Banbridge in a challenging position to qualify for the Kirk Cup semi finals.
To do this they must win both remaining group games, beginning with Mossley – a game which takes place on Tuesday night at 7.45pm at Havelock Park.