Dollingstown made their first ever league visit to Crystal Park on Saturday having only qualified for Championship Two this season.
They have recruited well in pre-season and are making a strong impact in the league already.
And they went home elated after a very impressive 4-0 trouncing of a terribly disappointing Banbridge Town side for whom very little went right throughout the 90 minutes. Town’s cause was not helped when they lost goal-scoring talisman Conor Downey early on after a heavy fall which led to a serious looking shoulder injury.
Conor, who scored both goals in the previous week’s Intermediate Cup victory over Albert Foundry, was sorely missed and while this loss was accidental, the loss of midfield ace Mark Teggart was self inflicted when he was sent off just before the half-time whistle. Frustration got the better of him and he lunged in with both feet on the visiting right back.
It was a silly act and probably put the final nail in Town’s coffin.
However, it must be added that Teggart’s action was totally out of character and one which I’m sure he deeply regrets.
Dollingstown got off to the best possible start when Thompson, one of the league’s best strikers, seized on hesitation from Town’s Stephen Greene to race past the centre back and shoot past James McConville after only four minutes.
This is the second successive week Town have conceded a soft goal although unlike last week, there was no coming back this time.
The homesters did look good at times with slick football moving forward and they did put Dollingstown under a lot of pressure as they searched for the equaliser but the loss of Conor Downey after 15 minutes when he went down after an accidental tackle from ex-Banbridge team mate Neil King proved a mighty set-back.
Town keeper McConville was called into action four minutes later when he saved brilliantly from a 35 yard Andy King volley. Glen Waddell was inspired in the Banbridge defence and time and time again he intercepted dangerous Dollingstown moves before setting up another attack.
Town had an excellent chance to equalise on 24 minutes when Ally Wilson worked his way into the area before setting up Duncan Stoddard unmarked in front of goal but the latter’s drive was somehow blocked and cleared. Although relatively early in the game, it probably was the turning point.
At the other end, James McConville got down to stop a Walker effort after he had ran on to a great crossfield pass from Thompson. Although Banbridge were now in the ascendancy, it was the visitors who raced into a 2-0 lead after 33 minutes when another ex-Town player Neil Clydesdale turned a defender before finding Thompson lurking six yards out and the prolific goal-scorer didn’t need a second chance before blasting home.
Mattie McCartan got his head to a Michael Ferguson cross soon after but couldn’t get any direction with it and Fletcher held a Mark Teggart shot as Banbridge continued the fight.
However, just prior to the half-time whistle, Town’s hopes were severely dashed when Teggart saw red for a two-footed lunge on a visiting defender. With nothing to lose, Town went three at the back, which is always a risky thing to do, and despite a heartening start to the half, they were caught with two splendid goals within ten minutes of the restart.
On 50 minutes, Walker finished into the roof of the net with a great shot from the edge of the box after a fine four man move and five minutes later came the goal of the match when Richard Thompson grabbed his hat-trick with a stunning 22 yard volley which left James McConville motionless in the Banbridge goal.
Ten man Town kept probing but to no avail and in the end, Dollingstown ran out comfortable winners on a day Ryan Watson’s men will want to forget and very quickly.
BANBRIDGE TOWN: McConville, Ferguson, Wilson, Greene, Waddell, Buchanan, Teggart, McCartan, Wilson, Downey, Gourley. Subs: Gray (Wilson 71), Stoddard (Downey 15), Dennison (Stoddard 80), Watson, Croft.
DOLLINGSTOWN: Fletcher, Redpath, Denver, A King, N King, Moffett, Clydesdale, Hughes, Donaghy, Walker, Thompson. Subs: Montgomery (Hughes 81), Cunningham (N King 80), Wright (Donaghy 55), Fegan.
Referee: Shane Andrews, Comber.
On Saturday (January 3rd) Banbridge Town have Championship Two basement club Ballymoney Utd as visitors to Crystal Park (kick-0ff 2pm).
This game now takes on a whole new signifigance as Town are in dire need of points if they are not going to be sucked into a relegation battle later in the season.
Without Mark Teggart and probably Conor Downey to add to the already lengthy injury list, this will be a tough task but one which the squad will have to face with optimism.