Slow start condemns Town to a dismal defeat at Crystal Park

Banbridge Town have a battle on their hands for the remainder of the Championship Two season. INBL1608-230EB
Banbridge Town have a battle on their hands for the remainder of the Championship Two season. INBL1608-230EB

Banbridge Town suffered their second successive defeat on Saturday when Moyola Park ran away with a 3-0 win at Crystal Park.

All the goals came in a dismal first half as Town were outplayed by their opponents who leapfrog them in the Championship Two.

Town are now in sixth spot, just four points above the bottom five.

Manager Ryan Watson was able to pick from a strong squad with only Stuart Thompson andd Gary Boyle unavailable. Kevin Anderson was back but started on the bench whilst Conor Downey was deemed not match fit and didn’t make the squad.

With the match under way, nerves were evident throughout the Banbridge side as a confident Moyola started much better and found their stride early on with Adam Gray testing right back James Wilson.

Moyola were doing all the pressing and made the breakthrough on just 10 minutes. A ball down the left evaded Wilson and striker Conor Taggart picked up the pass in space before cooly lobbing outrushing keeper Tuda Murphy.

Town were rocked but skipper Ryan Moffatt rallied his team for the restart. Stuart King was a willing runner through the Moyola defence as he tried to create space for his team-mates in the middle and prise open a chance for lone striker Jamie Smith.

However, the visitors’ defence was very organised and Town struggled to create any clear cut chances in response to Moyola’s early goal, Jamie Smith seeing one shot saved.

Town were finding it difficult to stop the impressive Christopher Dowie in midfield but were finding limited joy down the flanks with Chris Kingsberry and Ryan Gourley getting the ball into the box, only to be met with a flawless Moyola defence.

Town found themselves fighting an uphill battle on 23 minutes when Moyola were awarded a penalty by referee Raymond Crangle after an uncharacteristic error from Chris McGrath. Daniel McHatton put his powerful spot kick to Murphy’s left and although the big keeper guessed correctly and got a strong hand to the ball he couldn’t keep it out.

Town tried to get back into the game and a quick throw in released King on the edge of the area; he took a touch before unleashing a goal bound shot which was well saved by keeper Marc Rayburn.

However, that was to provide only a brief glimmer of hope as Town soon found themselves three behind. Adam Gray skipped away from the defence and saw a low shot saved but keeper Murphy was powerless to stop Moyola striker Connor Taggart tapping in.

The home side were shell shocked and in disarray. They even had to clear a Taggart effort off the line to prevent Moyola bagging a fourth.

They did have a chance to restore hope before the break when Harris handled in the area. Penalty. Town Captain Moffatt, however, saw it well saved by Mayburn. It wasn’t going to be Town’s day.

Town searched for a lifeline in the second half, and had more of the possession but struggled to break down a well organised Moyola team who were better than their opponents all over the pitch.

Substitutes Barr, Pedlow and Anderson did firce Town further up the pitch but without any telling results.
And so it was a result that sends Town down to sixth with both Moyola and Queen’s University leap-frogging Ryan Watson’s side. Thankfully for them, Dollingstown, Glebe Rangers and Dundela all lost.

TOWN: Murphy, Moffatt (Anderson 70), Greene, Waddell, Wilson, Gourley, McCartan, McGrath, Kingsberry, King (Pedlow 60), Smith (Barr 60). Unused: Croft, Jones.

Referee: R Crangle.