There was penalty heartache for Town on Saturday as they were put out of the Intermediate Cup by Wakehurst.
The game had finished 0-0 and the deadlock wasn’t broken in injury-time either before Town were agonisingly beaten 5-4 on penalties.
Town entered this cup-tie short of no fewer than five regulars due to injury or work commitments - Paul Walsh, Adam Pedlow, Steven O’Neill, Johnny Kernoghan and Glen Waddell).
Wakehurst started the brighter and troublesome midfielder George Young charged through on goal before unleashing a piledriver which Cairnduff did well to stop. They threatened to break the deadlock when Young again burst through to send a goal-bound volley towards the corner of the net but Cairnduff flung himself across goal to save at full length.
On 21 minutes, it looked as if the Town had opened the scoring when a neat pass from Conor Downey sent Mattie McCartan clear 15 yards out but his chip went agonisingly wide of the open goal. This is a chance Banbridge would rue as the game wore on.
After 27 minutes a snap shot from Town Supporters’ Player of the Month Conor Downey was pushed out for a corner by Cairns. However it was the visitors who had slightly the better of the first half and it took the ever alert Cairnduff to come to Town’s rescue after 40 minutes when he produced a great stop from a goal-bound Jason Paul effort.
Banbridge came out fighting at the start of the second half and almost went ahead on 46 minutes when Damian McParland was unlucky to see a header for a McCartan corner go fractionally over. Town’s pressure continued and after 56 minutes a good cross from sub Michael Ferguson found Mattie McCartan whose first time effort was deflected over for a corner. Stephen Greene got his head to the resultant corner but couldn’t guide it home.
Wakehurst soon regained their composure and after 63 minutes it was that man Young who created the best chance of the game when he raced past Buchanan and Ferguson before blasting over from close range. It was a real let off for Town.
It seemed like a goal was on its way when Conor Downey swung over a left wing free which Martin Buchanan thundered against the bar with a powerful header and then Wakehurst’s Mark Teggart latched on to the clearance before rattling the base of the upright with his volley. It was non-stop and on 82 minutes Andrew Laughlin turned a left wing cross on to the Banbridge upright. Both sides attacked at will pressing for that elusive winner but nobody could break the deadlock. A further two periods of extra-time still produced no goals with Downey and Boyle going closest for Town while Young and Paul did likewise for Wakehurst. It was all down now to the dreaded penalty shoot out.
The quality of the penalty taking was of the highest calibre. Wakehurst converted five penalties through Young, Crawford, Rodgers, Paul and Lemon. Banbridge converted four through Greene, Waddell, Boyle and McCartan. The unlucky man was Stephen Jones whose effort was well saved by Wakehurst ‘keeper Cairns. It was heartbreaking for Jones who had converted all his previous spot kicks. However we all know Town’s tough tackling midfield ace will come back stronger than ever! TOWN: Cairnduff, Wilson, Baird, Greene, Buchanan, McParland, Downey, McCartan, Jones, Boyle, Teggart. Subs: Waddell (Baird 68), Ferguson (Wilson 55), Mallon, Monaghan.