Ten man Banbridge Rangers paid the penalty against Tandragee Rovers on Saturday, losing out 5-0.
It wasn’t just one spot-kick that helped Rovers on their way but astonishingly Rangers gave away three penalties and were reduced to ten men in the first half.
The scoreline flattered the hosts who were second best for most of the opening half but the final 45 minutes were a breeze for the reigning Intermediate A champions.
Gers manager Richard McMinn had another week of reshuffling his squad with over half a dozen players unavailable who would normally command a place in the team but the starting eleven was as good as anything Rovers had to offer.
Left back Jamie Crooks made his first appearance in over a month and was first to attack but his shot fizzed over after a meandering run in the third minute.
The saturated pitch may have slowed the game down but Rangers looked most threatening with Colin Cunningham and William Frazer linking up well on several occasions.
In the 33rd minute, Tandragee’s first clear chance came when Simon McClean evaded two challenges on the edge of the area and was brought down from behind by Jonny Porter who escaped with only a booking. Lee Wells had a penalty saved in the return match at Cheney Park by Ivon Blevins and it was a case of deja vu as Blevins saved his poor penalty with his legs.
At the other end, Rangers should have opened the scoring when Cunningham went clear of the last defender and squared to an unmarked Andy Mallen who checked onto his right foot which allowed McGivern to close the strike down and get enough of an arm on the shot to allow it to be cleared off the line.
On the counter attack, Tandragee were awarded their second penalty of the game when Porter made an untimely challenge and received his marching orders from referee Gerard Murray. AJ Gallagher took over duties from 12 yards and made no mistake slotting into the bottom corner to give his side the lead just before the break.
Rangers’ positive play after the restart lasted for six minutes with Scott Ward testing McGivern before a swift counter saw Cecil Corbett nod in a header at the back post.
The Gers went three at the back to allow Mallen to push forward and find a way into the game but were unable to convert two good half chances and conceded a third goal when Tandragee’s star player McClean had the easiest of tap-ins after a clearance by Sergeant failed to make contact on the slippery surface.
The game was well out of sight in the 62nd minute when Jonny Black made it 4-0 after Rangers conceded a third penalty as a blind Chambers pass was intercepted just as Blevins was trying clear.
A fifth goal followed when an inch perfect cross from the left was headed in by Black. Matthew Dodds was joined on the pitch by younger brother Morgan who has emulated his brother by making his senior debut at 15 years old and is another player within the Rangers ranks with a bright future in the game.
Rangers’ next two league games are both at Cheney Park with Camlough Rovers this Saturday followed by league-leaders Newry City AFC the following week.
RANGERS: Blevins, Sergeant (Matthew Dodds 63), Chambers, Gregg, Crooks, Porter, Ward (Hughes 72), Cousins (Morgan Dodds 81), Frazer, Andy Mallen, Cunningham.