BANBRIDGE ventured down south to take on Cork Church of Ireland in the quarter final of the Irish Junior cup with a full squad including debutant Sam Farson.
Cork COI had defeated Mossley seconds and Belfast Harlequins seconds in the previous two rounds and with home advantage Bann knew they were in for a tough match.
Bann started strongly and caught Cork COI sleeping when McAnulty pounced on a rebound from a Woods shot and after a small lift over a defender stick slotted the ball in from close range.
The game ebbed and flowed after the goal with neither side dominating. Bann’s defence had to look sharp on a couple of occasions from quick Cork COI attacks and O’Neill made a couple of great saves.
Cork COI were exerting a high press and managed to gain possession in midfield and from the subsequent attacks won several short corners. On their third short corner the ball was switched right and then back into the penalty spot where their attacker fired the ball in for the equaliser.
Bann did win a couple of short corners of their own but the Cork COI defence cleared the danger after the initial shots were well saved.
Cork finished the stronger of the two sides in the second half and after winning another short corner on the half time whistle Cork used the same switch routine to take the lead with their attacker finishing on the reverse.
Bann changed their press in the second half and managed to force Cork down the left hand side of the pitch. After a couple of chances for both sides McAnulty picked up the ball in the Cork half and fed Stergeon who entered the circle from the right hand side.
The Cork keeper came charging out and the composed Stergeon side stepped the keeper and slotted the ball in from an acute angle to bring Bann back into the match.
Cork were continuing to press the Bann defence and were unlucky not to take the lead from a Bann mistake which lead to a free shot for a Cork attacker but O’Neill was on fine form to make the save.
O’Neill continued to impress and blocked a couple of further Cork shots. Both sides exchanged short corners but neither side could find the winner before the final whistle went.
Both teams entered the first period of extra time with the silver goal rule coming into play. Bann took the initiative from the start and after a quick attack from Woods they won a short corner after the ball hit the foot of a Cork player. McCandless made no
mistake from the top of the circle with a powerful drag flick which the keeper couldn’t keep out. Cork had a half chance after the goal but O’Neill again saved well and after a quick counter young Woods sealed the match when he smashed the ball into the bottom corner to send Bann through to the semi-finals which will take place on Sunday 10th March.
Bann join Annadale, Cookstown and Monkstown/Glenanne in the semi-final draw which will take place on Monday morning at the Irish hockey offices.
The Monkstown/Glenanne game was called off due to snow and will have to be replayed prior to the next round.