The fight for second place in the men’s Junior League Two looks set to continue to the end of the season after South Antrim Seconds and Banbridge thirds couldn’t be separated in their 2-2 draw at Friends School.
Banbridge, missing several of their usual line up due to the upcoming Burney Cup final, welcomed Ryan Jordon and Matthew Graham into the squad.
Both teams started brightly probing the opposition defence without troubling either keeper. Marshall was linking up well with Brown in midfield and finding the frontline pairing of Dean and Magowan on regular occasions.
The two Andersons in central defence had to react to some fast attacks from South Antrim and Adair made a couple of solid saves to keep the game at stalemate.
Midway through the half a fast break from Bann found Magowan in space in South Antrim’s 25 and after beating his defender he squared the ball to Dean who made no mistake from close range.
Bann then came under a sustained period of pressure when Marshall was sinbinned and South Antrim won several short corners during this period which they were unable to convert.
With Bann back to a full contingent, South Antrim did manage to draw level with a fierce reverse stick shot into the bottom corner and they were unlucky not to take the lead when they hit the post. Bann were again reduced to ten in the final few minutes of the half when Brown was yellow carded for a bad tackle however Bann managed to see out the rest of the half.
South Antrim tried to take advantage of their extra player for the first five minutes of the half with Adair pulling off a string of good saves.
Bann finally started to pull some passes together and were unlucky not to take the lead when in some good positions within the South Antrim circle.
South Antrim continued to win several short corners but couldn’t convert with Dean blocking the initial shot from the top of the circle on a couple of occasions. Bann finally won their first short corner and Anderson stepped up to flick the ball just below the back board on the keeper’s left hand side to give Bann the lead.
South Antrim fought their way back into the game and drew level after a long corner was worked into the circle and a South Antrim forward shot low past Adair.
Both teams looked for the winner and Bann thought they had won a penalty stroke after Magowan had round the keeper only to see his effort blocked on its way to goal by a South Antrim defender’s foot. The umpire awarded a short corner with the South Antrim keeper making a good save.
South Antrim had a chance to win the match in the dying seconds of the game but again Adair was on hand to make a strong save. With both teams having only two games left, they are equal on points with Bann having the superior goal difference.