Banbridge Rangers 3
Newry City AFC 1
Banbridge Rangers impressive form continued on Saturday past when they came from behind to blow away Newry City in the midst of a winter gale.
The win was the Gers 9th out of the last 11 league games with two draws sandwiched in between to stretch out their unbeaten run and move into 3rd place in the Mid Ulster Intermediate A standings.
With a strong driving rain at their backs and a point to prove after recent poor form saw Newry come out and dominate the opening half an hour at Havelock Park.
Newry took a deserved lead just before the twenty minute mark when influential midfielder Jimmy Walker curled a free kick into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Newry were encamped in the Rangers half without creating too many clear cut chances and with ten minutes to go in the half the tables started to turn.
A long throw by Captain Colin Cousins saw midfield general Jonny O’Neill power a header on goal but Newry keeper Murphy managed to claw the ball out for a corner.
The resultant set piece went long and as Newry came out of defence the play was switched to Stuarty Mallen on the left wing. Mallen then delivered an inch perfect cross for O’Neill who made no mistake second time round with another forceful header.
After a welcomed break at half time from the elements the flow of the game changed significantly as the Gers started to play more flowing football with Andy Mallen at the heart of each phase of play.
It was the little magician himself who played an exquisite ball in behind Newry’s rearguard with the outside of his boot for Jonny Porter on 51 minutes but with only the keeper to beat Porter saw his shot smothered.
Stuart Mallen tested the keeper before retrieving the clearance to set up Porter but his shot trickled past the post.
Newry’s inability to deal with set pieces was exposed on 69 minutes when an arrowed long throw from Cousins saw the ball cleared with an outstretched arm. Referee Gerard Murray played an advantage and Adam Beattie fired into the roof of the net from 12 yards to give his side the lead.
Jason Gourley came on for Jonny Porter with fifteen minutes to go and should have been on the scoresheet almost straight away when a miskicked clearance left him with only the keeper to beat but his low shot was subsequently saved.
The Gers finally scored their third goal with ten minutes to go and what a strike it was. When Adam Beattie won an aerial battle 25 yards out from goal the ball dropped between the two Mallen brothers. Andy took control of the situation and unleashed a superb effort into the postage stamp to seal all three points.
In the final ten minutes both teams made a double substitution but as Newry brought on two former Irish League strikers the Rangers brought on youth team players Matthew Dodds and Reuben Cobb.
Both players are only 15 years old with Dodds making his third appearance whilst Cobb became the youngest ever debutant for the club at 15 years and 35 days old.
The remaining minutes saw a break in the incessant weather with the large turnout of supporters seeing the Gers cross the line without any worries.
With no fixture this week Banbridge Rangers will return to action on Saturday 14th March with the return league fixture against Newry City AFC taking place at the Showgrounds.
BRFC Team: Chrissy Davison, Kyle Sergeant, Ryan Gregg, Chris Chambers, William Frazer, Jonny Porter (Jason Gourley ‘74), Colin Cousins (c), Jonny O’Neill, Adam Beattie (Matthew Dodds ‘86), Andy Mallen (Reuben Cobb ‘88) & Stuart Mallen.
Referee: Gerard Murray (Dungannon).