Nine-man Banbridge Rangers picked up another vital point with a 3-3 draw at home to Fivemiletown United on Saturday.
Chris Chambers netted the pick of this topsy-turvy game, a free-kick from near the halfway-line that he floated over the opposing keeper’s head and into the net.
Coly Cousins and Scottie Ward were both sent off after the break. Five of the goals came in the first-half, with Rangers going in 3-2, although they were pegged back on the hour-mark, at that stage reduced to ten men.
In the fifth minute a McIlroy corner was sent long to the edge of the box and Mark Wilton guided his looping header over everyone to give Banbridge Rangers an early lead.
From the restart, the visitors from Co Tyrone replied with an equaliser when McDowell played a ball over the last defender and Callaghan finished with a low driven shot across the keeper. The game was played at a high tempo and Rangers appeared to be on top.
Both teams were using a high defensive line and on 25 minutes, Fivemiletown broke the offside trap to allow Ricky Carroll to put the visitors in front for the first time in the game.
Rangers didn’t let that worry them and soon drew level. The goal came from a direct free-kick at the halfway-line. Chris Chambers had indicated to dink the ball into the 18 yard box from his centrally placed free kick and when the keeper took a few steps off his line Chambers arrowed the free kick over the keeper and into the net from the guts of fifty yards out.
There was still more action in the first half as Jason Gourley was on hand to head in from eight yards out and give Banbridge Rangers a 3-2 lead heading into the interval.
After the break, United went close but Gers keeper Davy Crawford saved well to keep his side in the game. Ten minutes into the half saw the referee produce a straight red card for Coly Cousins for a tackle on the opposing left winger.
Things went flat for the home side for a period of 15 minutes with Chris McDowell scoring a free-kick just after the hour-mark to level the scores at 3-3. Only for another smart save by Crawford the away side would even have taken the lead.
In the final 20 minutes however, the tide began to turn with Banbridge Rangers starting to look after possession better and Aaron Buchanan looking very sharp on the ball when he came on, slotting into left-back.
Neither side were able to create the clear cut opportunity that would have secured all three points before Ward was given his second yellow-card in injury-time.
Banbridge Rangers’ next fixture is away to Ballymacash Rangers in Lisburn on Saturday (kick off 2pm). This will be a tough game against a side who have been positioned in the top four all season and have a very good record at home.