After an enforced three week break it was back to the battlefield for Banbridge Town on Saturday with a journey to Castledawson, where they picked up a point but should have taken all three against unbeaten Wakehurst.
Mark Teggart bagged the goal to put Town ahead before Wakehurst levelled and Martin Buchanan was dismissed on 71 minutes.
Summer signing Ally Wilson made his long awaited debut along with goalkeeper James McConville, signed just before the August 31st deadline to replace the injured Stephen Croft.
Another new signing Duncan Stoddard (ex Coagh Utd and Lisburn Distillery) was included on the bench. The new additions were very welcome as Town were minus holidaying Glen Waddle and Nathan Baird plus Dee McParland, Ryan Evans and long term injured duo Adam Pedlow and Chris McGrath.
Town took a deserved lead after 19 minutes. It began with a good passing movement involving Downey, Ally Wilson and Teggart with the latter having a fierce drive saved by Wakehurst’s excellent 15 year old goalkeeping prospect Aodran Tolan. He also got his hand to Martin Buchanan’s follow up but could not prevent Teggart finally slotting into the far corner.
After 29 minutes, Shannon Drainey (filling in for Glen Waddle in the heart of the defence) saw a header taken off the line and soon after Conor Downey had the miss of the match when he contrived to shoot wide when it seemed easier to score.
The buzzing Teggart took a hard knock after 35 minutes to curtail his involvement but it was Banbridge who went in at half-time to the applause of their travelling support.
Ally Wilson flashed narrowly wide after 47 minutes with the keeper rooted to the spot. The latter saved again at the base of the post from Wilson after good link play involving Teggart. Midfield dynamo Stevie Jones was the victim of a crude tackle on 53 minutes but bravely returned to the action after treatment.
Against the run of play, Wakehurst found themselves on level terms one minute later when the normally reliable Stephen Greene missed a hopeful punt out of the home defence and Conor Gregg raced through to shoot past the advancing McConville.
It nearly got worse for Town when Muir was left free following a right wing free-kick but he headed straight at McConville who gratefully held his goal bound effort.
Banbridge looked odds on to regain the lead after 64 minutes when Ryan Gourley raced through but fired over a gaping goal.
Wakehurst were dangerous on the break though and McConville went full length to push another Muir effort out for a corner two minutes later.
Town were reduced to 10 men after 71 minutes when Martin Buchanan saw red for a rash challenge which gave the momentum temporarily back to Wakehurst and it took a great tackle by Shannon Drainey on Gregg to avert danger soon after. A Roy Colville header was cleared off the line by Jones as Town came under real pressure for the first time.
Ryan Watson then introduced Duncan Stoddard for the tiring Ally Wilson and the promising David Gray for Ryan Gourley in an attempt to regain the initiative. Neil Watson also replaced Conor Downey and with his first touch sent Mark Teggart in but he just failed to notch what would have been a deserved winner.
Although an away draw is usually regarded as a decent result, Town could easily have come away with all three. The football played was good and there certainly can be plenty of optimism for the future.
TOWN: McConville, Ferguson, Wilson, Greene, Drainey, Jones, Teggart, Buchanan, Downey ( Watson 88), Wilson (Stoddard 76), Gourley (Gray 81).
Unused Subs: Orr.
Banbridge Town AFC 1-1 Crewe Utd Res
Lurgan Town Res 4-1 Banbridge Town AFC Res