Dowds on form for Bann as they see off Cookstown

Two goals and an assist from Stephen Dowds ensured it was a happy return to action for Banbridge, who hosted Cookstown on Saturday.

Simon Magowan and Fraser Mills were also on target for Bann, who were boosted by the return of Eugene and Owen Magee, Matthew Bell and Drew Carlisle from injury.

Banbridge opened the game with a very high tempo, causing Cookstown all sorts of problems early on. This initial pressure resulted in a short corner, which Stephen Dowds converted high into the net.

Banbridge continued to push forward but Cookstown looked to exploit Bann on the break. Banbridge were aware of this with Drew Carlisle and Phillip Brown having excellent games at centre back.

The second goal of the game came after a great piece of individual play from Stephen Dowds. He picked up the ball in his own half and drove towards the opposition’s circle before finding Simon Magowan, who was on hand at the back post to double Banbridge’s advantage.

The game began to open up as Cookstown looked for a way back into the reckoning. Hugh McShane and Bruce McCandless did well to get things back under control in the midfield but it wasn’t long before the visitors got their reward.

Cookstown certainly were finishing the first half the stronger and they found a lifeline in the game after a crash ball was deflected past Gareth Lennox. Minutes later, goalkeeper Lennox was forced into a fantastic save from a drag-flick to ensure Bann held their slender 2-1 advantage at the break.

The second half started the same as the first ended, with chances aplenty at both ends of the Havelock pitch. Cookstown looked for an equaliser and had several chances narrowly miss at the far post.

At the other end, a piece of magic from Owen Magee restored Banbridge’s two goal advantage. Magee beat two players before firing a shot into the far corner to make the score 3-1.

Again Cookstown pushed to find a way back into the game but this left an abundance of space for the Banbridge forwards. Simon Magowan was unlucky not to double his goal tally for the day after being denied by a last ditch tackle. It was soon 4-1, Eugene Magee did well to find Fraser Mills who found an opponent’s foot in the circle. Stephen Dowds stepped up to score with a drag flick and registered his 30th goal of the season.