THE Third XI faced an experienced and physical Antrim side in their first game of the New Year.
Some thought it would take Banbridge a while to run of their Christmas dinner but unknown to all, this was going to be the highest goal return of the Third XI’s season to date.
From the opening whistle the home side pressed high and forced mistakes from their opponents. The breakthrough came via the Banbridge captain Bill Malcolmson with a composed reverse shot deep inside the circle. This goal decreased the nerves of the home side who controlled play by stringing together many pleasing spells of possession.
It was the inspired substitute Mark McCoy who, with his first touch of the ball, grabbed the second goal with a neat spin, beating the keeper in his bottom right corner.
Malcolmson soon pounced on a short corner routine to put the thirds into a commanding 3-0 half time lead.
A focused side appeared for the second half hunting for more goals and they didn’t disappoint.
From the outset, Bann played with an abundance of flare and before long Clarke Neville dispatched a wonderful drag flick past the stranded keeper between the Antrim posts.
A glimmer of hope for the visitors was soon restored when they managed to breach Bann’s defence that had played so well prior to this one attack.
But the locals showed great character once again as their defence held strong around Neville and Matson by diffusing many of the Antrim attacks. Both teams weren’t afraid to get physical, no more so than Andrew Ferguson whose outlet ball down the line managed to find the in form John McCague who beat two players and sent a thumping shot into the back board for Bann’s fifth.
The next two goals were similar in fashion as Matthew Warnock and David Armstrong latched onto loose second phase balls, both scoring with relative ease.
Antrim managed to score against the run of play but it in the blink of an eye Warnock, beating a man linked up well with Armstrong at the back post who slapped the ball home replying to the conceded goal in the best way possible.
Late into the game a long ball from Josh Rowe found Warnock who fed Malcolmson into the opposition circle. One on one, with pressure being applied by some defenders Bill calmly slotted the ball home to bring his tally for the game to three.
It may well have been the performance of the season from the boys in red both in defence and attack, a truly all rounded, complete performance.