AFTER two close games with Hillsborough in the league and cup, Town Juniors Under-17s were hoping this game would be third-time lucky against their opponents.
With no fewer than seven goals in just 35 minutes, the first-half was an enthralling spectacle with end-to-end action.
Banbridge went one down early on when Hillsborough’s forward headed home from a corner and this lead was doubled when a strike from Hillsborough’s forward took an awkward bounce and hit the back of the net.
Banbridge got back into the game almost immediately when Dominic Donnelly ran down the left-wing, cut inside the box and fired a shot towards goal that was parried by the keeper and the rebound fell to Aaron Heaney who had a simple tap-in to cut the deficit.
Heaney then turned provider for Banbridge’s equaliser, when he threaded a ball through to the feet of the impressive Ryan Higgins, who rounded the keeper before being taken down in the box. Up stepped Michael Mallon to coolly slot the ball home to level the tie.
The scoring wasn’t finished there though. A Hillsborough corner was cleared by the Banbridge defence but the ball landed kindly to the Hillsborough centre-back who fired a terrific strike from 30 yards into the top corner of the Town’s net.
Yet again Banbridge came from behind as a great strike from Sean Kelly found the back of the net to keep the Under-17s in the game.
Chances were created by both Michael Corden and Ryan Finnegan for Banbridge, but it was Hillsborough who regained the lead when a scramble in the box resulted in a 4-3 lead.
The second half was once again an end-to-end affair, with chances for both sides. Unfortunately it was Hillsborough who got the decisive first goal of the second half, when a neat finish gave them a 5-3 lead. It then went from bad to worse for the Town as Ben McDowell was carried off injured after a poor challenge.
The introduction of Matthew Stevenson and Eoin Monaghan saw more attacking threat for Banbridge, but after some good link up play, they couldn’t find the back of the net.
Minutes later Monaghan controlled the ball and set up Matthew Miller, who turned the defender before sending a fantastic curling effort into the top corner for Banbridge’s fourth. Time was not on the Town’s side though, and despite their best efforts to steal a last minute point, Hillsborough held out for a 5-4 win in what was a fantastic game.
Team: Chris Coleman; Daryl King; Ben McDowell; Stephen Stewart; Ryan Finnegan; Michael Mallon; Aaron Heaney; Sean Kelly; Ryan Higgins; Michael Corden; Dominic Donnelly. Subs: Eoin Monaghan; Matthew Stevenson; Conor Byrne; Matthew Miller.