Banbridge Town AFC signed off for their Christmas break by smashing a record that had stood for two years.
They travelled to Planters Park to face a Dollingstown second-string who hadn’t tasted a home defeat in 24 months.
That didn’t phase the local lads as an absolute stunner from Brian Johnston and a free-kick from miles out (or so he’d have you believe) by Stuart Jordan ensured they left with a 2-1 victory to complete their first back-to-back wins of the season.
With a couple of players called up to bolster the first team, three injured players unavailable and one away on a family holiday. AFC had to bring players in from the AFC Reserves squad.
However ominous the task, there was a quiet sense of believe in the team following their very impressive display the previous week against Loughgall.
The game started brightly for Town who forced a corner in the first four minutes but it was well defended by the Dollingstown defence.
It is the season for miracles and Town had their own miracle in Brian Johnston. On 27 minutes, the young centre back intercepted a through ball and came out of defence with the ball. He went on a run down the middle of the park like a gazelle being chased by a lion.
He cut through the Dollingstown midfield, played a lovely one-two with McCavitt and slotted a left foot shot into the far corner of the Dollingstown keeper’s net.
The whole team were still in shock at his strike when, three minutes later, Dollingstown had equalised from close range through their number 10 who looked dangerous all afternoon.
Just three minutes later, Town had restored their advantage through yet another miracle.
Team captain and defensive midfielder Stuart Jordan stepped up to take a free-kick awarded around 25 yards out - although, according to him, he was in Lurgan when he hit it.
The resulting free-kick was thumped towards the goal and took a slight flick off the Dollingstown defender but no one was going to deny the industrious skipper his spoils
It is no surprise Dollingstown have been unbeaten for so long as their team rallied round and put AFC on the back foot for most of the second half. Town defended well but were being pinned back further and further.
When the visitors got the ball out of their third, they just couldn’t hold on to it and it was coming straight back. Nonetheless, the AFC rear guard and big Phil Goan held firm.
Manager Chris Beattie then changed the hard-working Declan Loy and Kalum Farrell for the fresh legs of Andrew Houston and veteran Gary Spears.
It seemed a long, long time but eventually the referee blew up for full-time to the relief of the AFC squad and management.
TOWN AFC: Goan. Mallon. Martin. Johnston. Toner. Jordan Hayes. Jordan. Williamson. Mc Cavitt. Farrell, Loy. Subs: Houston. Spears. Orr.
Town AFC boss Chris Beattie was full of praise for his side after the victory.
“Both teams played the game the way it should be with desire and commitment,” he said.
“With so many man of the match performances again it was a difficult task to choose. Everyone played their part and contributed to the result but Brian Johnston was a colossus in defence and to chip in with a goal as well was nothing short of a Christmas miracle.
“I would personally like to thank Dollingstown’s manager for his very sporting attitude and Lisa King for the tea at half time.
“I would also like to thank our players who have bought into what we are trying to do at Banbridge and have given us 100% commitment.”