Last gasp heart-ache for Banbridge as Wallace snatch penalty victory

Even the most inventive of authors couldn’t have written the script for the 94th Burney Cup final.

Banbridge were seconds from victory, leading 3-2 as the clock ticked down to zero. However, Wallace weren’t beaten just yet as Sean Murray lined up a last gasp short-corner that would take the match into extra time.

Banbridge managed to hold out one set-piece, inspired goalkeeper Justin Glass making the latest in a string of fantastic saves.

However, Murray made amends and smashed home a heart-breaking equaliser.

With no goals in extra time, it was down to the lottery of a penalty shoot-out with Wallace holding their nerve to net all of their strokes and snatch the Burney Cup from Banbridge’s grasp.

It was certainly a particularly bitter way for such a sweet Cup run to end, the Academy having won the Cup in the previous four attempts.

It was an action-pakced final right from the off as the game was only 45 seconds old when Wallace opened the scoring. Man of the match Jack Wilson cut through the Banbridge midfield and set up vice-captain Daniel Nelson to lift a superb finish over Banbridge stopper Jack Glass.

However, it certainly wouldn’t be quite so easy for the Lisburn boys after that as Banbridge roared back into action and netted a quickfire double to reverse the scores and take a 2-1 lead.

First, it was the turn of their vice captain Clarke Neville who beat Fraser Rodgers with a superb drag-flick from one of very few short corners the Academy earned throughout the game.

Minutes later, the oustanding Johnny McKee gave the Banbridge side the lead when he ghosted past Wallace players and smashed a finish past the helpless Rodgers.

After the break, Wallace immediately set about hauling themselves back into the game as Nelson burst through the Banbridge team right from the pass-back and forced a great save from Glass.

It was one of many stunning stops the inspired Banbridge keeper would go on to make. However, he was powerless to stop Jack Wilson’s leveller when he lifted a superb finish over the advancing keeper to make it 2-2.

Banbridge, however, broke back up the pitch and soon regained their advantage. Again it came via great work from that man Johnny McKee, who tricked his way past his marker wide on the left and delivered a telling cross that Aaron Reid converted at the back post.

That looked like it might just be enough to see Banbridge to their fifth successive Burney Cup title but Wallace sent the match into extra-time thanks to Murray’s late, late equaliser.

In extra-time, there were chances at either end as Andrew O’Hare forced another stunning save from Glass and Banbridge saw an effort deflected just past the post after good work from David McCracken.

That paved the way for Wallace to seal the win on penalty strokes.

It was a new experience for this Banbridge team who are used to winning. One thing’s for certain, they’ll be back more determined than ever to bring the Cup back to Banbridge next season.