Even without four key players, Banbridge Town still went close to matching title-chasing Limavady United at Crystal Park on Saturday.
Boasting a meaner defence than earlier in the season, United’s winner was the only goal Town had conceded in their double-header again Championship Two’s top two sides, having held Lurgan Celtic to a 0-0 stalemate the week before.
But with no goals scored at the other end in those two games, it’s in the forward department where questions are now being asked.
“There wasn’t much in it at all,” said boss Ryan Watson after Saturday’s game.
“At the end of the day, the best we could have done was probably a 0-0. For all our hard work and good defending, we never really threatened their goal and didn’t create enough chances.
“One goal was always going to win it and it just depended who got it.
“There are plenty of positives to take, again we matched a team at the top of the table. We were missing a few big players as well but the lads put in a good shift and worked very hard defensively.
“That final ball was just lacking. Their keeper didn’t have too many big saves to make.”
Town were largely undone by a master-class from United goal-scorer Cathair Friel, one of a number of ex Coleraine players in the Limavady ranks that also included player/manager Paul Owens and striker Shane Jennings.
“They had some good players who have played at higher levels but they were probably delighted to get away with the win,” said Watson.
“Crystal Park is a difficult place to come and they’ll have seen that Lurgan Celtic couldn’t break us down at home.
“We’re not far away. Once the squad is down a few key players though we struggle to get results.
“We’ve played so much better since the turn of the year. We’ve tightened up defensively, now we just need to work on creating and taking chances.”