Banbridge Town got back to winning ways on Saturday as they dispatched Mid-Ulster side Moneyslane at Crystal Park in the Bob Radcliffe Cup.
The visitors arrived in top form and hopeful of an upset but Town in the end proved too strong. Goals from STuart Thompson, Chris Kingsberry and Jordan Hayes ensured the Championship Two side progressed to the quarter-finals.
Town welcomed Chris McGrath back into the starting line up, while defender Stephen Greene began his suspension. There was also a debut for goalkeeper Tuda Murphy, with Stephen Croft making way.
Banbridge started the better of the two sides, playing with a much higher intensity than the visitors. A great early move involving Chris McGrath and Ryan Moffatt allowed Chris Kingsberry a strike on goal only for his shot to drag wide.
Moneyslane threatened to put the Town under some pressure with former Town winger Jonny Kernaghan full of running down the left until he was met by some great measured defending from right back Michael Ferguson.
The momentum was with Banbridge as they surged forward and began asking more questions of the Moneyslane defence. A sign of things to come perhaps as Chris McGrath won a free-kick down the left, which was taken quickly into the path of left back Stuart Thompson. His long range effort forced Moneyslane keeper Stevie White into a good save.
Town’s midfield combination of Martin Buchanan, Chris McGrath and Ryan Moffatt was proving overwhelming for the visiting side, who almost conceded the opening goal when Moffatt picked up the ball in midfield before spreading the play out wide for Kingsberry to cross to Davy Gray, who shot wide.
As the half-time whistle loomed, Glen Waddell’s afternoon was cut short as he was forced off with injury allowing Ryan Gourley to come on in a reshuffle of personnel.
Banbridge finally got the breakthrough they deserved right on the half-time whistle after another great flowing move. Captain Ryan Moffatt’s cross was deflected but Gray kept the move alive when he picked up the ball on the left before laying it into the path of Stuart Thompson who took one touch and then planted the ball into the far corner from the edge of the area, giving the keeper no chance.
The second half got underway with Moneyslane having some early pressure, which Town’s centre-back pairing of Kevin Anderson and Marty Buchanan dealt with confidently.
A succession of Moneyslane corner-kicks helped the visitors grow in confidence, however goalkeeper Tuda Murphy claimed the ball to avert any danger.
The half was 15 minutes old when Moneyslane grabbed an equalising goal, a speculative long range effort having enough on it to worry débutante Murphy as it came off the crossbar and fell at the feet of Moneyslane striker Gregg Harrison, who tapped the ball into the net.
This was perhaps the tonic Banbridge needed as they settled back into their passing rhythm after the restart. Town weren’t behind for long, and soon restored their lead when Moffatt took a quick free-kick to release Kingsberry through on goal. He finished low and hard with his first touch, much to the delight of the home fans.
Moneyslane struggled to threaten a Town side who were tightening their control of the game. Banbridge then killed them off when stiker Neil Barr won a throw in down the left which was taken quickly into the feet of Moffatt. He played it back to Stuart Thompson who delivered an inviting ball into the area onto the head of teenage striker Jordan Hayes to head home.
That was a much deserved goal for the striker who had looked lively all afternoon.
While Moneyslane tried to rally late on, Banbridge were not going to give anything away and recorded a much-needed win.
All in all, it was a good performance from a Town side who played with urgency and great intent, as they advance to the next round of the cup, where they will take on Armagh City (away) on Saturday 26th September.
TOWN: Murphy, Thompson, Gray, Anderson, Waddell, Buchanan, Ferguson, McGrath, Hayes, Kingsberry, Moffatt. Subs: Johnston, Barr, Gourley, Pedlow, Croft.
MONEYSLANE: White, Coulter, Taylor, Shilliday, Peden, Ervine, Harrison, Kernaghan, Quilty, Nesbitt, Rees. Subs; Bingham, Boyd, Gibson.