Banbridge Town Juniors U16 Lisburn League Team produced a heroic display to reach the semi-final of the Lisburn League Cup by defeating Newry outfit Midway 4-2 on penalties after a 1-1 stalemate at Ballymacoss on Saturday morning.
The outstanding trait of this team this year is that they refuse to accept defeat and once again they pulled out all the stops to force the game into extra time and get the win despite going down to 10 men early in the second half.
This was the fourth time these sides have done battle this season and each game has been eventful.
This encounter was no exception. The early exchanges were fierce and clear-cut chances were few with Leckey being the busiest of the goalkeepers early doors.
But it was Town’s leading goal-scorer Fearon who opened the scoring after being put through by Rafferty’s clever pass to finish well into the bottom of the corner to put the Town one up after 25 minutes.
The second half was a tense affair with so much at stake and the Juniors felt they should have had a penalty when Fearon was upended on the edge of the box. But the referee opted for the free kick and the Town couldn’t capitalise. Minutes later, Midway broke up the field and with the centre forward clear on goal, the on-rushing Leckey blocked his shot but was deemed to have handled outside the box and was shown a straight red.
The Juniors now had to regroup with Fitzsimmons fulfilling the goalkeeping duties, but the Town could not hold out and Midway equalised from a corner with 15 minutes to go.
With McKinstry working hard in midfield and Houston, Morgan, Ellison and Downey having to battle for every ball in defence, the Juniors managed to hold out.
Extra time was an even affair even though the Juniors were a man less and Fitzsimmons was heroic in goal, saving at point blank range to keep the Town’s hopes alive.
McKibbon, Fearon and Ellison all converted their penalties with supreme confidence in the shootout, while Fitzsimmons superbly managed to save two of the Midway penalties.
The opportunity was then left to Paul Morgan to step up and steal the glory and an emphatic win for the Town by stroking his penalty home and prompting wild scenes of jubilation.
They have earned themselves a cup semi-final clash against Willowbank next month. But this week sees a return to League matters and a game against North End at Wallace Park - kick off 9.30 am.
TOWN: Leckey, Fitzsimmons, Ellison, Morgan, Downey, McAtamney, Fearon, McKibbon, Houston, McKinstry, Rafferty, Byrne, Devlin, Irwin.