Birthday boy Ward shines but Town pay the penalty

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Banbridge Town B Under 17s clashed with Lisburn Distillery Under 17s at Havelock Park last Saturday morning in the Lisburn League Cup and were very unlucky to go out on penalties.

Town had to equalise in the last minute to force extra time after a 2-2 draw but couldn’t find a winner against ten men and paid the penalty.

It was Banbridge who were first to pose a threat, with Jordan Walker putting in a pinpoint free-kick which Rhys Jones met with a header only to see it fly the wrong side of the post.

Distillery were unsettled, giving the Town boys the freedom to mount a series of attacks. Sam McCallister and captain Jake Laffin were combining well and it was that duo that provided the opener. Laffin beat his man down the left and crossed for McCallister who was arriving at the back post to head his side ahead.

Jordan Walker and Ryan Angus worked hard in the Town’s engine room as they disrupted Distillery while supplying the Town’s front men with enough to feed off.

Town keeper Conor Ward was forced into a save from a free-kick but his side failed to clear their lines and Distillery put a cross in which took a wicked deflection and landed in the net to draw the game level just on half time.

The second half was a different story, Distillery had smelt blood with their equaliser and came flooding forward at a rock solid Banbridge back four.

Distillery went down to ten men after an off the ball incident but they still poured forward and Ward was called into action on a few occasions to produce some quality saves and keep his side level. Rhys Jones also lent a hand with two off the line clearances.

With five minutes to play, Distillery capitalised on their mounting pressure when they penned Banbridge well inside their own half, before their striker found space and scored.

With time against them, Banbridge threw everything forward in a last ditch attempt to force extra time.

Ryan Jones found himself in unfamiliar territory when he found space down the right before crossing for McCallister who lept but was blocked by the hand of a Distillery defender - penalty.

Captain Jake Laffin stepped up and put the ball in the top corner out of the reach of the keeper to level the game right on the final whistle.

Extra time forced, and it was all Banbridge.

However, they couldn’t force a winner and so it was on to penalties, where Distillery kept their nerve to win.

This week’s MOTM was keeper Conor Ward for a fantastic performance as he commanded his area well and played a very composed 90 minutes of football on his birthday.