Two second half strikes were enough to see Tandragee Rovers progress into the fourth round of this season’s Irish Cup at the expense of Banbridge Rangers on Saturday.
The Gers had a much changed side as both Stuart Mallen and Jerry Philip were ineligible whilst Mark Wilton, William Frazer, Jonny O’Neill and Andy Mallen were all unavailable for selection with four Reserve team players coming into the squad.
At a cold and wet Cheney Park, it was the visitors who had the better of the early chances with Cecil Corbett forcing Rangers keeper Andy Harker into a save as early as the second minute.
On 12 minutes, it was Corbett again who had the chance to break the deadlock when he pulled his shot wide of the post after being released by Whiteside who was able to travel well into the Gers half without a challenge.
On 26 minutes, Banbridge Rangers had their first good chance when Gracey released Porter down the right flank and his cross was inches from being converted by the late run of Jeff Brady.
Three minutes later, captain Cousins had an opportunity to score when left back Wayne Nelson played him into the channel and with Rovers keeper McGivern coming off his line, Cousins went for the lob but sliced just wide of the post.
A competitive first half ended with four players making their way into the referee’s book for late challenges and the only half chance landed Rangers way with pinball in the box eventually seeing a snap-shot sail over the bar.
The second half was nine minutes old when Tandragee opened the scoring as a ball between the centre halves saw Johnny Black with just the keeper to beat and he tucked his finish under Harker.
Up until this point, the game had been played at a reduced tempo but the goal suddenly sparked the Gers into life and started to play free-flowing football and put Rovers under sustained pressure.
The Rovers defence proved to be well organised and limited Rangers to efforts from outside the area with Cousins coming closest on 73 minutes but McGivern was equal to the task and tipped around the post for a corner.
The threat of a counter attack was always on the cards and Tandragee all but sealed their name in the draw for the next round in the 80th minute as Black played a neat one two before dispatching his second goal of the day.
A late flurry by the home side saw Brady go clear in stoppage time but his square ball for Gordon was deemed offside as the substitute looked to slot home.
On the balance of play, Rovers deserved to progress as they were well organised and created more clear=cut chances than their counterparts who will need to raise their game for the Premier Cup quarter-final this Saturday.
Banbridge Rangers will host Newry City AFC at Cheney Park with kick off at 2.15pm.
The winners will have to play Camlough Rovers for a place in the showpiece Christmas Cup Final.
The Reserves return to action this Saturday with a trip to Coagh United Reserves.