Banbridge Academy’s first eleven boys got their new year underway with a convincing 9-0 victory against their Belfast counterparts, Campbell College.
Mark Barlow netted a hat-trick among five different scorers as Bann begin preparations for their opening round Burney Cup tie against holders Wallace HS.
The game was played out in adverse weather conditions, with constant downpour throughout. Once Bann were settled they began to dominate possession with the midfield of Jake Rowe, Kyle Marshall and Charlie Norris linking well.
It wasn’t long before Banbridge won the first short corner of the game through some solid work from Mark Barlow, with the corner cleverly finished by Nathan Liggett. One soon became two when the second short corner was converted by Jake Rowe after a textbook variation. At the other end, any Campbell attacks were soon snuffed out by the expert defending of Andrew Bennington, James Anderson, Mark Adair and Dylan Cowan.
The third goal came quickly after the second, when Kyle Marshall found himself one on one with the Campbell goalkeeper and he was cool, calm and collected as he slotted home to give Banbridge a 3-0 lead. The relentless attacks of Bann continued as they soon found their fourth goal from some quick reactions by Peter McKnight. Banbridge refused to give Campbell any breathing time: Mark Barlow got his name on the score sheet with a quality reverse to make it 5-0.
The highlight of the first half was when Marshall grabbed his second with a thunderous reverse stick shot which found the top corner of the net. Shortly before half time Banbridge had time to grab their seventh goal with Norris and Marshall linking up well in midfield and the ball eventually finding Barlow who snatched his second of the game.
After the half, Campbell came out hungry and aggressive looking for a goal but expert goalkeeping from Luke Roleston ensured that the boys in red kept a clean sheet. Players such as Callum Gibson, Sam Green and Joel Reid made big impacts off the bench as they slotted in nicely to the flow of the game. After some superb one touch play around the circle, the ball found its way to Mark Barlow who placed the ball in the bottom corner to get his hat-trick and Bann’s eighth.
Rowe continued to make darting runs at the Campbell College defenders and found Norris in the circle who played it across to McKnight who got his name on the scoresheet for the second time and wrapped up a solid performance from Banbridge.
The Belmont Hotel-sponsored side now look forward to continuing preparations for their Burney Cup clash against Wallace High School, which takes place on February 6th at Lisnagarvey.