Banbridge let two goal lead slip

Monkstown 5

Banbridge 3

ON a very wet day in Dublin, this match was a fantastic spectacle of attacking hockey.

Both teams can be very proud of putting on a great advertisement for the game for the large crowd that was bolstered by a large travelling contingent from Banbridge.

In the first 20 minutes Banbridge controlled the ball for long periods without really creating a clear chance and Monkstown played a counter attacking style of hockey.

Banbridge deservedly broke the deadlock when Dane Ward found Dermy Reay to score. They quickly doubled their lead when a cut back from Josh Moffett in the circle was turned into his own net by a Monkstown defender under pressure from Ward.

At 2-0 the next goal would be crucial and on 35 minutes the Monkstown captain Gareth Watkins, with their second corner of the half, scored with a low drag flick into the right of the goal. At half time it was 2-1 to Banbridge.

The second half started with both teams moving the ball well and in the 42nd minute Monkstown forced two consecutive short corners with the second one breaking down but luckily falling to Stephen Cole who flicked it into the left of the goal.

This second seemed to settle the young Monkstown team and the skill of Stephen Cole and the long aerials from Richard Sykes were beginning to pressurise the Banbridge defence.

In the 48th minutes the pressure told as Stephen Cole robbed a Banbridge defender on the 25 and fed Gareth Watkins whose shot was parried by the goalie but only to Andy Ward who tapped in.

The game flowed from end to end with both goalies been kept busy and with the odd green card about there began to be a little more space.

In the 56th minute Gareth Watkins drove into the right hand side of the D and his cross was deflected in off a defender’s stick.

Banbridge’s determination drove them forward and Hugh McShane finished off a bobbling ball to make it 4-3 with 10 minutes left.

Banbridge continued to press and David Fitzgerald made two brilliant stick saves from short corners to keep Monkstown’s lead intact.

With a minute left the ball broke in the Monkstown half and Kyle Good raced clear to the half way line, drew the last defender and diagonally passed to Gareth Watkins who was clean through.

As the goalie advanced he squared to the thundering Irish U18, David Cole, who slotted home to seal the win for Monkstown.

Next week Bann return to league action and what should be a straightforward enough encounter when they go to Bangor.

Bangor have managed just four points all season but it could be goals that are crucial. Banbridge have got a similar goal difference to that of league leaders Lisnagarvey, who they trail by a point with a game in hand.

Garvey themselves have a big game with Instonians, who themselves have designs on the title, coming to Hillsborough.

Saturday’s game in Bangor has a 2.30pm start.