The shutters came down on Town’s season in splendid fashion on Saturday as they claimed an impressive 4-1 victory at Knockrammer Park against Lurgan Celtic.
This win brings Banbridge Town to a final tally of 50 league points which is quite an achievement for Ryan Watson and his merry band of men - like Robin Hood and his merry men they have always been one for all and all for one.
At the start of the season it would have been deemed impossible to reach this points tally so Ryan, his coaches and players deserve great credit for a quite remarkable feat with such a small squad, which decreased even further with the loss of talismen Mattie McCartan, Chris McGrath, Paul Walsh and Adam Pedlow through long term injury and unavailability during the season.
However, the emergence of U17 stars David Grey, Gareth Orr and Dominic Donnelly augers well for the future.
Youth certainly is the backbone of Town’s future under Ryan Watson with Nathan Baird, Michael Ferguson, James Wilson and Steven O’Neill perfect examples of this scenario.
It was the youth that shone in Saturday’s game and David Grey bagged his first senior goal in the closing minutes.
Town were without Stephen Greene and Damian McParland (both on holiday) although Lurgan Celtic were also without a few seasoned campaigners. It was the home side who forced the early pace and received the boost of taking a second minute lead.
Michael Ferguson had made a great saving tackle on the edge of his box but when the ball rebounded, Celtic’s left winger raced past him and was floored by the Town’s despairing late lunge. Conor Hagan stepped up to cheekily chip over Cairnduff from the resultant penalty to put his side ahead.
It could well have been 2-0 just minutes later but for a great save from the consistent Cairnduff who raced from his goal-line to thwart the Celtic number 10.
Banbridge gradually gained a foothold in the game and Gary Boyle fired wide with their first real effort after 12 minutes. It was the hard-working Conor Downey, operating in midfield, who was responsible for Town taking command and it was fitting that he would score the equaliser on 23 minutes. His wicked 30 yard shot was deflected past Magennis in Celtic’s goal.
Town continued on the offensive as the second half began and it was no surprise when they went 2-1 in front with 55 minutes on the clock.
A high ball over the defence from Michael Ferguson found Gary Boyle, who turned sublimely and shot into the far corner to open up a lead for Banbridge which they rarely looked like giving up.
A typical Steven O’Neill run saw the striker force his way into the box but he shot wide of the post on 62 minutes and he will have been disappointed with his final shot.
Three minutes later, young David Grey was introduced off the bench and was soon into the action with a fine run down the left and a shot which whistled narrowly wide. That turned out to be merely a warning shot of what was to come from the promising teenager.
He went close again soon after with a header as Town upped the ante. On 69 minutes, Mark Teggart’s drive whizzed past a post and one minute later it was 3-1 when a jinking run from Johnny Kernoghan ended with the winger slotting past Magennis and into the corner.
Ryan Watson then emptied his bench, bringing young Gareth Orr and Neil Watson into the action.
Banbridge took an unassailable 4-1 lead on 86 minutes when David Grey belied his years by cutting inside a couple of defenders and tucking a great shot wide of the despairing keeper.
In the end, it was a comfortable three points ifor Town and the perfect way to end their season.
TOWN: Stephen Cairnduff, Michael Ferguson, Nathan Baird, James Wilson, Glen Waddell, Martin Buchanan, Mark Teggart, Conor Downey, Steven O’Neill, Gary Boyle, Johnny Kernoghan. Subs: David Grey (O’Neill 65), Gareth Orr (Kernoghan 72), Neil Watson (Waddle 72).
Referee: Damien Basketfield.