Banbridge Town’s new strikers didn’t take long to get going.
In the club’s first pre-season match at Crystal Park, Ashley Gregg and Neil Clydesdale were both on target to deliver the Bob Larmour Cup.
It was the second season in a row Town have won the trophy, this time with a 2-0 victory over a young Cliftonville.
New Manager Stuart King has added several players during the close season and many of those caught the eye.
Town dominated the first period, albeit against a young Cliftonville team.
The front three of Downey, Gregg and Clydesdale all figured prominently and soon delivered the opener. On 10 minutes new signing Ashley Gregg reacted far quicker than his marker to turn in Ryan Moffatt’s low cross at the near post.
Cliftonville had their first real opportunity five minutes later when clever interplay between Tully and Waters allowed the latter to unleash a shot that flashed past another new signing, keeper Stephen Cairnduff’s post.
Town continued to press and responded well to the promptings of two other new signings who dominated the midfield proceedings. The industrious nature of Jack Mcreanor combined well with the passing ability of Niall Lavery, known to everyone as ‘Buckshot’. Along with the promptings of Captain Ryan Moffatt, the pair created some excellent phases of passing and interplay which drew appreciative applause from the large band of home support.
Other chances soon arrived including a golden opportunity for Gregg to double his and Town’s tally after heading over an excellent corner from Moffatt.
Clydesdale then fired wide after a burst forward and soon after, the attacker went one better.
He turned home after another partly cleared corner to make it 2-0 to the hosts.
Just when Town thought they were going to see out the first half without further incident, their stopper was forced into a great save. Donnelly’s swering free-kick was destined for the net but Cairnduff tipped it round the post.
That was to be his last act of the day as he was replaced at the start of the second half by another new signing in 16 year-old Andrew Cullen, who joined the club from Glenavon.
Town started slowly and were almost punished on two separate occasions. Cliftonville’s Mclory missed an excellent chance to reduce the arrears after only 90 seconds of the restart.
It was during this phase that another new signing, centre back Stephen Acheson showed his quality, both in his heading ability and positional sense as he and fellow centre half Stephen Green, together with fullbacks James Wilson and Stuart Thompso,n combined to thwart several promising attacks.
Town gradually eased themselves back into the match and although some of the intensity of the first period was missing, they still looked dangerous on occasions.
One particular move, involving six players and finishing with a good effort from Lavery, was rapturously applauded by the home support.
On the 80th minute, Clydesdale was unlucky not to score his second when he just failed to turn in substitute Adam Pedlow’s excellent cross.
Town didn’t have matters all their own way as the visitors’ Curtis Crawford shot wide after a quick break. Near the end, keeper Cullen showed what potential he has with a superb save from a fine effort from Donnelly.
In the end however, it was Captain Ryan Moffatt who received the trophy from Katie McKee, a grand-daughter of the late Bobby Lamour.
After the match, Manager King expressed his pleasure with the result and stated that he was “pleased with the progress so far.”