BANBRIDGE Rangers Swifts travelled to Brownstown Park in Portadown on Saturday for their penultimate league fixture of the season knowing that a return of six points in the last two games would guarantee them promotion.
After a goalfest first half which finished 4-4 Rangers found themselves losing by a solitary Rectory goal midway through the second half to leave their promotion dependant on results elsewhere.
The game started brightly for the away side who took the lead inside the opening five minutes when Aaron Chambers cut in from the right hand flank and sent a shot to the far bottom corner but was diverted past the keeper by one of the Rectory defenders into the opposite corner.
The Portadown side replied with two minutes after a quick throw in was sent into the box for the striker to dispatch with ease past keeper Cairns. Banbridge Rangers Swifts then retook the lead on 15 minutes through striker Neil Wilson who scored his twenty third goal of the season firing into the roof off the net after some good work by Aaron Chambers who was played in over the top by an exquisite McMinn ball.
On 25 minutes Rectory equalised with a looping cross from the right hand side evading the keeper with Rodney McLaughlin trying to head over under pressure from a yard out but saw the ball hit the roof of the net to see the scores level again. For a third time inside the opening half hour Banbridge Rangers took the lead through a well worked counter attack with Aaron Chambers again supplying the pull back for the pulsating run off left back Ryan Ferry who had run the length of the pitch in support of Chambers and turned well with the ball behind him to fire in first time past the Rectory keeper.
On thirty four minutes another McMinn ball over the top off the left back saw Aaron Chambers get his fourth assist of the day crossing to the back post where midfielder Robbie Baird was on hand to cushion in his third goal in three games for the Swifts and move Rangers onto 4-2 for the afternoon. The turning point of the game then happened with four minutes to the half when the Rectory striker challenged keeper Cairns for the ball in midflight and knocked the keeper back over the line. The goal was allowed to stand but it took several minutes for Cairns to regain his composure and tried to make it to the half time interval but was beaten for a fourth time with a strike from inside the area after a one two had split Rangers centre half pairing.
At half time Rangers made a change of keeper with normal left winger Mark Dillon having to pull on the gloves and did well. The second half was nothing like the first period with neither side carving out any real clear cut chances or neither able to break into any form of passing. It was clear that the next goal was going to be crucial and it fell to Rectory Rangers who blasted home from inside the six yard box after a goalmouth scramble from an inswinging corner.
Banbridge Rangers Swifts through everything up front in the last ten minutes with Aaron Chambers being tripped inside the box but got a shot away which was parried for a corner. The Rectory keeper then smothered chances by both Wilson and Chambers when free one on one to secure all three points for his side. The defeat means Rangers need to win their one remaining game away to Lurgan Thistle and hope that Tullyvallen lose at least one of their remaining four fixtures which would see Rangers grab second place on goal difference.