Five-star Rangers move to top of the league after comfortable win

Banbridge Rangersin recent action. INBL1536-253EB
Banbridge Rangersin recent action. INBL1536-253EB

Banbridge Rangers went top of the league on Saturday with a comfortable five goal win over AFC Craigavon at Cheney Park.

The Gers will be hoping to use home advantage in September as all four league fixtures have been scheduled at Cheney Park.

Neil Clydesdale in action for Rangers. INBL1536-254EB

Neil Clydesdale in action for Rangers. INBL1536-254EB

The two bottom sides Lower Maze and AFC Craigavon proved to be poor opposition but the final two games of the month will be a different kettle of fish with reigning champions Tandragee Rovers this Saturday followed by unbeaten Crewe United coming to Banbridge on September 26.

The match on Saturday was less than three minutes old when those at Cheney Park were witness to an act of pure brilliance.

Andy Mallen controlled a 50 yard ball from Chris Chambers just inside the six yard box and with the keeper rushing to close the space Mallen scooped the ball over him to execute an audaciously perfect lob from only four yards.

AFC Craigavon dropped deep and frustrated Rangers for much of the opening half an hour.

However, on 36 minutes it was Andy Mallen who extended the lead via a nonchalant free-kick from the edge of the area that flew into the near top corner.

The Gers should have been out of sight by more goals at half-time but overplaying the ball and some poor finishing saw the half-time score remain at 2-0.

Within five minutes of the restart any hope of AFC Craigavon taking something from the game evaporated when their centre half saw a second yellow for a late tackle on Cunningham and was fortunate to still be on the pitch after receiving his initial caution for a punch to the head in the opening minutes.

With Craigavon down to 10 men they defended resolutely to stop a rout with Rangers frustration growing with each spurned opportunity.

A double substitution on 58 minutes saw Jonny O’Neill come on along with the Reserves top scorer Dean Gordon to see if he could unlock the AFC defence.

On 69 minutes the third goal eventually arrived through Stephen Teggart who scored his second goal in successive weeks.

A back pass six yards from goal presented Rangers with a chance to shoot through a host of bodies and the young teenager kept his cool to find the roof of the net with a ferocious strike.

In the final quarter of the match Dean Gordon was able to score twice to move the Gers top of the league on goal difference.

Both goals were opportunistic but the young striker showed superb anticipation to be in the right place and before the end he could have scored a hattrick only for a shot to go inches past the post.

Banbridge Rangers will be hoping to add more misery to Tandragee Rovers’ stuttering start this Saturday with kick off at 2.15pm.

Rovers have lost two of their first four league games and never get an easy ride in front of the large Cheney Park crowd.

BANBRIDGE RANGERS: Ivon Blevins, Colin Cousins (c), Christopher Chambers, Ryan Gregg, Jamie Crooks (Dean Gordon ‘58), Jonny Porter (Jonny O’Neill ‘58), Stephen Teggart, Scott Ward (Matthew Dodds ‘73), Jeff Brady, Andy Mallen & Colin Cunningham.

Referee: Paul Burns (Banbridge)