Last Saturday Bann 4ths lost out 3-1 to Instonians Thirds.
Bann know that every game now is a cup final for them as they bid to climb away from the relegation zone.
Bann were sure to miss the mercurial talents of the evergreen Joe McKnight. Despite McKnight’s absence, Bann captain Neil Madeley had still assembled a side capable of challenging for the three points on offer.
Inst are going well in Junior Two with the likes of former internationals Neil Cooke in midfield and Paul Holloway marshalling their defence. It was the home side who started off on the front foot prompted by Cooke in midfield and Bann had to work hard defensively to maintain parity in the opening 15 minutes, with Mooney in the Bann goal saving his side on several occasions with some smart saves.
Just as it seemed that Bann were getting into the game through the hard work of Beck and DeCourcey-Wheeler in the Bann midfield, Inst took the lead when the visitors failed to secure possession and their right winger fired in a superb reverse stick shot which gave Mooney no chance. This sparked Bann into life and they forced several short corners but a combination of a poor routine and poor second phase finishing saw the opportunities go abegging.
Mooney again was called upon to keep his side in the game but was powerless to prevent Inst adding a second after 50 minutes.
A swift Inst counter-attack left their centre forward with a one-on-one with Mooney but despite a superb block by the Bann netminder the ball fell into the path of the Inst right winger and he gleefully tapped the ball into the empty net from close range.
Bann threw caution to the wind knowing the game was slipping away from them and were rewarded with just nine minutes left on the clock. Some smart interplay between Dave Morrison and Peter McKnight created an opening for forward Gareth Matthews to fire a superb finish into the roof of the net at the back post to halve the deficit.
This breathed new life into the Bann challenge and an unlikely draw began to look a possibility for a few minutes before an error in the Bann defence with five minutes left gifted Inst a third goal to effectively kill off the Bann challenge. The locals have played better this season however the workrate of Beck, Mooney, and DeCourcey-Wheeler continued to keep them in the game but they must look to eliminate the basic errors which cost them dearly last Saturday.