A brace from Andy Mallen, including a spectacular overhead kick, wasn’t enough to salvage a point for Banbridge Rangers at title contenders Fivemiletown United on Saturday past.
As expected, Fivemiletown went for the jugular from the first whistle but this proved to be detrimental for them as they conceded the opening goal after seven minutes through a swift counter attack.
A clearance fell to Stuart Mallen well inside his own half and the young winger had only one ambition as he drove past several players to the byline before pulling the ball back to the edge of the box for brother Andy who scuffed his shot after a bobble but it worked well for Rangers as the ball found the bottom corner.
The lead was short-lived as Fivemiletown United responded with an equaliser within two minutes as Ivor Johnston rose highest to head home a free kick.
Midway through the first half, Fivemiletown took the lead when a floated free-kick saw Davison drop a routine catch and Matty Callaghan profited with a tap in from less than a yard out.
Fivemiletown took control of proceedings by scoring their third goal when Rangers were caught on the counter attack with Ricki Carroll skipping the last ditch tackle from Sergeant before lifting over Davison.
Banbridge Rangers should have brought a goal back in the 31st minute when the ball fell to Jerry Philip eight yards out but his half volley was stopped by keeper Crawford who took the shot square in the face.
Fivemiletown had the first good opportunity of the second half when player/manager Jason Gillespie pulled away from his marker to head goalwards from a corner but keeper Davison’s reactions were up to the task.
Chris Chambers went close with a long range effort from ten yards inside his own half when he spotted the keeper off his line but the shot nestled on the roof of the net.
The second Rangers goal arrived in the 73rd minute with yet another stroke of genius from Andy Mallen. The wee magician plucked a goal out of nowhere when he controlled a throw in on his chest just inside the box and from an acute angle he executed an overhead kick over the keeper and into the far top corner.
Banbridge Rangers will now play another one of the title contenders, Tandragee Rovers, tomorrow (Wednesday) night at their Madden Road ground with kick off at 6.30pm.